Belted Kingfisher

Megaceryle alcyon

Overview 1

The Belted Kingfisher, one of the most widespread landbirds in North America, remains poorly studied. Throughout the continent, it inhabits diverse aquatic habitats where it typically perches over clear open water before plunge-diving for prey¿chiefly fish, but also other aquatic animals such as crayfish. Undigested remains of such prey are regularly regurgitated as pellets, which fall beneath fishing and roosting perches. By studying these pellets, some information on seasonal diets can be determined without collecting birds or directly observing their foraging behavior.

Although the Belted Kingfisher breeds at northern latitudes, and occasionally winters there if open water is available, most individuals migrate, some as far south as northern South America. Solitary except while breeding, both males and females of this species vigorously defend their territories along shorelines of lakes or rivers throughout the year. They do this with strident vocalizations, especially a reverberating mechanical rattle, and by aerial chases. Indeed this kingfisher's Rattle Call is given at the slightest disturbance, and people are likely to hear this bird before seeing it.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Joven, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)

More Info