Belted Kingfisher – Avian Fishers Supreme

by Larry on October 14, 2008

Belted Kingfisher Female photo by Steve Berliner

The female Belted Kingfisher is one of the few females that is more brightly colored than the male of the species in the avian world. You will most likely find these interesting birds sitting on a wire over a creek doing what they do best; catching fish. These medium size birds are expert fishers as they spy their prey from a perch overhanging the water below. It can be an overhanging branch or a telephone wire but you will see them looking intensely down into the water for a meal.

The Belted Kingfisher is a solitary bird except during nesting season when a pair will defend their territory against other kingfishers. A territory along a stream, brook, river, estuary, pond or lake will be guarded as well as the vegetation along the shoreline. This is where you will often hear the loud rattling call before spotting the bright white collar of this bird that, it seams, must have been the model for Don King’s barber.

Belted Kingfisher Female photo by Tyler Allred

The nesting site of the Belted Kingfisher pair is a burrow in the bank of the river. The burrow entrance usually leads to a tunnel which slopes upward into the river bank up to eight feet in depth. From there they can safely raise their 5 to 8 chicks out of harms way.

Belted Kingfisher male photo by Steve Berliner

Luckily for us here in North America, these beautiful, stout birds can be found all across our continent. As I said, usually perched prominently on a tree, post, wire or other lookout watching for a tasty morsel to go swimming by as they get ready to plunge, head first into the water after their prize.  Whenever I am traveling the roads in Northern California I always check the power lines above creeks, streams and rivers for the Belted Kingfisher.  When I spot one, like I did a few weeks ago on my way into town, I always pull off the road and watch them fish.  It just brings a smile to my face.  Keep an eye out for them and you will begin to see them often and have the joy of watching a true fisher supreme.

Below is a short video showing a magnificent Malachite Kingfisher diving for fish, somewhere in Africa no doubt. But you can see how all of the kingfisher species dive for fish.

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