London: The kingfisher has toppled the robin red breast as Britain's most loved bird. Kingfisher numbers are so low in the country that it has been officially given the status because of conservation concerns.

The kingfisher -- scientific name Alcedo atthis -- was voted for the top spot in a poll by readers of Bird Watching magazine. It came out ahead of the robin, long-tailed tit, peregrine falcon and barn owl.

“The kingfisher has to be a favourite bird that the fewest number of people have actually seen,” said Grahame Madge of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Recent surveys have shown there were around 11,400 such birds living along the country's network of rivers and streams.

The number has declined by 17 percent since 1995.

“Kingfisher is one of those species that absolutely everyone, including people who would never describe themselves as birdwatchers, get excited about,” said Bird Watching acting editor Matt Merritt.

(Agencies)