Ceryle alcyon

DescriptionBelted Kingfishers are seen on a whale watching boat tour with Eagle Wing Tours in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on Vancouver Island.

A pigeon-sized bird, the belted kingfisher measures 13 inches (33 cm). Blue-gray above, white below, with bushy crest, dagger-like bill. The male has blue-gray breast band; the female similar, but also has chestnut belly band.

Habitat

Rivers, lakes, and saltwater estuaries.

Nesting

5–8 white eggs in an unlined chamber at the end of a tunnel up to 8 feet (2.5 m) long, dug in a sand or gravel bank.

Range

Breeds from Alaska eastward across southern Canada and south throughout most of United States. Winters on Pacific Coast north to south-eastern Alaska, north to Great Lakes and along Atlantic Coast to New England.

Voice

Loud, penetrating rattle, given on the wing and when perched.

Discussion

While searching for fish, the familiar belted kingfisher perches conspicuously on a limb over a river or lake. On sighting a fish it flies from its post and hovers like a tern over the water before plunging after its prey. In addition, it may eat crabs, crayfish, salamanders, lizards, mice, and insects. Often a kingfisher patrols a regular beat along a stream or lake shore, stopping at favourite exposed perches along the way. When flying from one perch to another, often a good distance apart, it utters its loud rattling call.