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Belted Kingfisher perched near the lake at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge.

Belted Kingfisher

The Belted Kingfisher’s head looks too big for its body. Its black bill is long and thick, and its plumage a powder blue, with a white collar across its throat. Its shaggy crown blows fashionably in the wind. Unusual among wildlife, the female is more colorful, with a splash of chestnut across her belly.

Belted Kingfisher
CERYLE ALCYON
• Length: 13 inches
• Wingspan: 20 inches
• Season: Year-round
More about Belted Kingfishers.
Where they are, and when.

They patrol up and down rivers and lake shores, sweeping from bank to bank in search of fish, crawfish and other watery delicacies. They perch on overhanging branches or hover above the water, looking for movement before diving in to grab their prey. They then strike their catch against the perch to kill it before swallowing it down. With their stocky build and brash, rattling call, they exude an air of authority.

Belted Kingfishers dig their nests deep into the banks of rivers and lakes. They take turns in an elaborate excavation project that can span weeks, producing a tunnel several feet into the ground. A small nesting chamber at the end nurtures five to seven white eggs. They teach their young to forage by dropping dead fish or crustaceans into the water for them to “practice” on.

About Scott Clark

I’m a digital journalist who’s worked as a photographer, reporter, producer and editor. My interest in the natural history of my surroundings reaches back to my early days beachcombing on the Jersey coast, rowing my boat on a quiet lake in Missouri and, more recently, discovering the mountains and backwoods of Montana, where I was born.

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