BELTED KINGFISHER

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
DESCRIPTION: The Belted Kingfisher has a stocky body with a large head and neck, and a long pointed straight black bill. It is grey-blue with a large blue-grey band on the breast. The under parts are white, as well as the neck. The wings have black tips. This bird has a large shaggy crest on the back of the head. The legs are pinkish grey. The female has a reddish-brown band below the first one. They are about one foot long (30 cm).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Megaceryle-alcyon
NAME: The English name ‘Belted’ refers to the colored band across the bird’s breast. The name ‘Kingfisher’ was given to the species in relation to its fishing abilities. The Latin genus name ‘Megaceryle’ means ‘great seabird’, and the Latin species name ‘alcyon’ means ‘kingfisher’.
HABITAT: Wetlands and various bodies of water, inland and along the coasts.
DIET: This kingfisher diet is made mainly of fish, which it watches for while perched on a branch above water. It will then dive head first to catch its prey. Belted kingfishers also feed on insects and crustaceans, as well as small reptiles and mammals.
NESTING: The nest of this species is built at the end of an upslope tunnel excavated in a bank by the water. About six eggs are laid, which are incubated by both parents, who also both feed the chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: The belted kingfisher is a North-American species. Its breeding range covers most of Canada up to the tree line, and the northern part of the USA. It is a year-round resident in most of the remaining USA. Its wintering range includes the southern border of the USA with Mexico and Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. Some individuals can wander across continents and end up in places like Europe or even Hawaii.
ON PEI: Belted kingfishers breed in Prince Edward Island. They are fairly common except in the winter, when they are rare as they need open water to access their food.
CONSERVATION: Although their population has been steadily declining over the last few decades, belted kingfishers are not yet considered at risk. One factor for the decline might be loss of nesting habitat. They are also vulnerable to human disturbance. On the other hand, they are known to raid fish in backyard ponds.
NOTES: Belted kingfisher nest burrows are sometimes shared with Bank Swallows.
REFERENCES: https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/belted-kingfisher
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://identify.whatbird.com/obj/61/_/Belted_Kingfisher.aspx
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/belted-kingfisher
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belted_kingfisher
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Belted_Kingfisher/id

Belted Kingfisher juvenile female looks like it's yawning -Aug. 5, 2017 - © Matt Beardsley
Belted Kingfisher juvenile female looks like it’s yawning -Aug. 5, 2017 – © Matt Beardsley
Belted kingfisher male feeding juvenile female - Aug. 1, 2017 - © Matt Beardsley
Belted kingfisher male feeding juvenile female – Aug. 1, 2017 – © Matt Beardsley
Male belted kingfisher - North Rustico, PEI - Aug. 31, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
Male belted kingfisher – North Rustico, PEI – Aug. 31, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley

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