Belted Kingfisher

 

 

Common Name:Belted Kingfisher

ClassAves

OrderCaraciiformes

Family:Alcedinidae

Genus:Megaceryle

Species:Megaceryle alcyon

 

 

TAXONOMY

Belted Kingfishers are in the group Coraciiformes which also includes near passerine birds. The name Coraciiformes means “Raven-Like” even though they are not related closely to ravens. Belted Kingfishers are medium-sized birds that are about 28-35cm (11-14in) in length, and their wingspan is about 48-58 (19-23 in). These birds usually weigh between 140-170g (4.9-6 oz). The kingfishers display reverse sexual dimorphism, and thus the female is more brightly colored than the male. Both have a blue head with a large white collar, a large blue band on the breast, and white under parts. Both the back and wings are blue with black feather tips and have white dots. The females have a rufous band across the belly that extends down the flanks. Young Belted Kingfishers look similar to adults, but both the male and the female young feature the characteristic rufous band on the upper belly. The young males have a rufous band that is somewhat mottled while the band on females is usually much thinner than that on adult females. Their call is a very distinctive, long, uneven clattering rattle.

HABITAT/DIET

Belted Kingfishers are usually located near inland bodies of water or coasts across most of Canada, Alaska, and the United States. They are usually seen perched on trees, posts, or other areas that are close to the water and optimal to finding prey. Belted Kingfishers usually eat small crustaceans, insects, small mammals and reptiles. Belted Kingfishers are known to migrate from the northern habitats where they dwell to the south of the United States, Mexico, Central America, and West Indies, as well as northern South America in winter. They usually leave the northern parts of its range when the water freezes, but might stay if there are remaining open bodies of water.

 

BEHAVIOR

 

The bird nest is created in a horizontal tunnel usually made in a river bank or sand bank and is excavated by both parents. The female usually lays five to eight eggs per clutch and feeds the young. Eggs are usually about 11.5g and have a mean length of 34.3mm. The average mass of eggs is 11.3g. The average incubation is about 22 days. Eggs usually hatch synchronously, between 12-18 hours apart.

 

WHERE TO FIND THEM

 

Belted Kingfishers are a common bird, and are found in areas that are wooded and also feature a permanent body of water. Many times they are heard before they are spotted because of their loud call.

 

Birds of Western New York is brought to you by the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.