Belted Kingfisher

Ceryle alcyon

Copyright, Camden Hackworth

Belted Kingfishers are large birds found along the shores of rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and marshes. Slightly larger than a pigeon, they can grow up to 13 inches long.

They are bluish-gray above, with a white belly and a white ring around the neck. Males have a bluish-gray breastband and females have a chestnut-colored bellyband to go along with the breastband.

Kingfishers have a a large crest. Their bill is very long a sharp. These birds look very top-heavy because of their large head.

Belted Kingfishers are usually seen patrolling shorelines, looking for food. They are territorial and have favorite perches where they watch for fish. Kingfishers eat mostly fish, as well as crayfish, salamanders, lizards, mice, insects, mollusks, and sometimes berries.

Copyright, Peter LaTourrette, http://birdphotography.com

Copyright, Ralph Hocken

To catch a fish, a kingfisher will hover over the water before diving vertically (straight down). They rarely go all the way under; they are usually going after a small fish near the surface.

When a Belted Kingfisher catches a fish, it will fly back to its perch, bang the fish against the branch, throw it up into the air, catch it, and swallow it.

Like owls, kingfishers will later regurgitate a pellet, with bones and indigestable material.

Copyright, Anne Elliot

Copyright, Jim Martin (Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, www.reifelbirdsanctuary.com)

Belted Kingfishers are solitary (live alone) except when breeding. The male and female will dig a tunnel in a bank of sand, clay, or gravel. The tunnel which can be up to eight feet long has a small chamber at the end. The female kingfisher lays five to eight glossy white eggs.

Belted Kingfishers sometimes share their tunnel with swallows, who make small rooms off the tunnel walls.

Young stay with their parents for about three weeks. The adults feed them regurgitated (thrown up) food.

Copyright, Jason Stuck/www.beakspeak.com

Belted Kingfishers' predators include mammals, such as raccoons and foxes, snakes, and raptors, such as owls and hawks.

A trick Belted Kingfishers use to avoid being eaten by hawks is to dive into the water at the last minute.

The population of Belted Kingfishers will increase around beaver dams, since they increase the amount of shoreline.

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Belted Kingfisher Call
Sound
Tony Phillips
Belted Kingfisher
Video
Phil Heine
Video Jason Stuck/www.beakspeak.com
Download Quicktime if you are unable to play video.

Relationships in Nature:

PREY/FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Creek Chub

Black Rat Snake

American Sycamore

Bank Swallow SP

Bluegill

Red-tailed Hawk

Black Willow

Beaver C

Golden Shiner

Raccoon

White Oak

Crayfish

Red Fox

Silver Maple

Wood Frog

Great Horned Owl

Yellow Poplar

Channel Catfish

Barred Owl

Yellow Perch

Eastern Newt

Tesselated Darter

Five-lined Skink

Meadow Vole

Red-backed Salamander

Eastern Lamp Mussel

Large Diving Beetle

Eastern Dobsonfly

Green Darner

Dogday Harvestfly

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Spotted Salamander

Eastern Mosquitofish

Relationship to Humans:

Belted Kingfishers are of great benefit to fishermen. By eating many small fish, this decreases competition and allows existing fish to grow bigger. Otherwise, there would be a lot of small fish, and not very many large ones. Kingfishers can sometimes be a nuisance, though, if they live near fish hatcheries, where small fish are grown with the intention of transferring them to other bodies of water. These fish are often trout, which are not native to Northern Viriginia.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Bird
ORDER
Coraciiformes
FAMILY
Alcedinidae
GENUS
Ceryle
SPECIES
Ceryle Alcyon

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