The wildlife associated with rivers is often concentrated on the fish that is found within them. However, this is not the only natural activity that occurs and the area around rivers is full of different birds, animals and insects. As well as being rich in fauna, the ecosystem is busy in flora, with many plants, shrubs and trees that thrive in the waterlogged conditions.
Many of the birds and animals that are attracted to the banks of the river are primarily there to feed. As well as the rivers being stocked full of fish, insects and other small creatures flock to the water and the mud to the edge of the main channels.
The fish themselves feed off then insects that either float on the surface or fly a little way above it. Many fish can be seen arriving on the surface of the water to feed as well and this explains why fly fishing is so successful.
The Kingfisher is one bird that is associated with living close to rivers. As well as feeding off insects that are available, the bird will also wait patiently for unsuspecting fish to swim close to the surface. The bird tends to nest in hollows in the river banks.
Some of the most spectacular pictures of birds hunting fish is when eagles wait for salmon to make their way to breed up stream. Bald eagles in particular wait for the time of year when they know the salmon run will start. With the fish being at times stationary in the water it makes a target for these highly aggressive birds of prey.
The banks of the rivers are home to many animals and one of the most popular are otters. These animals have long bodies and short limbs. Their webbed feet make them strong swimmers and they are able to hold their breath under the water. They live off fish plus any frogs and insects they can hunt.
An animal that effects small streams waterways are beavers who like to build dams. They then use the deep pools for protection and also to store away food. The beavers are herbivores feeding off the leaves, inner bark and twigs of the trees alongside the edges of the waterway. Many of the trees they prefer are the ones that flourish in the waterlogged conditions.
One such example is the willow which has a watery sap. The tree is not a tall species with many dwarf varieties, but it flourishes in wet conditions with its roots proving to be remarkably tough. The flexible nature of its wood has resulted in it being used for centuries in the production of cricket bats.
There are many flies and insects are attracted to the water and in hot countries this has led to the unwanted populations of mosquitos. The mosquito feeds off the blood of many different types of animals including humans. They have been blamed for the spread of malaria and yellow fever and many countries have tried in earnest to eliminate large swarms of them near their water ways. The river provides a rich ecosystem and many different plants and animals survive in these watery conditions.