Belted Kingfisher

Megaceryle alcyon

Description 4

The belted kingfisher is a stocky, medium-sized bird that measures between 28–35 cm (11–14 in) in length with a wingspan of between 48–58 cm (19–23 in). This kingfisher can weigh from 113 to 178 g (4.0 to 6.3 oz). The adult female averages slightly larger than the adult male.

This species has a large head with a shaggy crest. Its long, heavy bill is black with a grey

base. These features are common in many kingfisher species. This kingfisher shows sexual dimorphism, with the female more brightly coloured than the male. Both sexes have a slate blue head, large white collar, a large blue band on the breast, and white underparts. The back and wings are slate blue with black feather tips with little white dots. The female features a rufous band across the upper belly that extends down the flanks. Juveniles of this species are similar to adults, but both sexes feature the rufous band on the upper belly. Juvenile males will have a rufous band that is somewhat mottled while the band on females will be much thinner than that on adult females.

Overview 5

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) Rick Leche - Photography, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), http://www.flickr.com/photos/64649343@N00/2841112888
  2. (c) Rick Leche - Photography, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), https://www.flickr.com/photos/rick_leche/2329198029/
  3. (c) Tatiana Gettelman, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/tatiana-gettelman/6605120025/
  4. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belted_kingfisher
  5. (c) Joven, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://inaturalist.ca/guide_taxa/294512

More Info

Range Map

iNatCA Map

Color black, brown, green, white
Animal Bird
Bird Cerylidae (kingfisher)