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Belted Kingfisher

Megaceryle alcyon ORDER: CORACIIFORMES FAMILY: ALCEDINIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

With its top-heavy physique, energetic flight, and piercing rattle, the Belted Kingfisher seems to have an air of self-importance as it patrols up and down rivers and shorelines. It nests in burrows along earthen banks and feeds almost entirely on aquatic prey, diving to catch fish and crayfish with its heavy, straight bill. These ragged-crested birds are a powdery blue-gray; males have one blue band across the white breast, while females have a blue and a chestnut band.

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Calls

Male and female Belted Kingfishers give strident, mechanical rattles in response to the slightest disturbance. When threatened they may give screams, which males sometimes combine with harsh calls.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Belted Kingfishers sometimes come to backyards that contain ponds or goldfish pools, often to the dismay of the homeowners.

Find This Bird

Belted Kingfishers are common along streams and shorelines across North America. You’ll probably hear a loud, rattling call before you see the kingfisher. Its large head and hefty bill give it a distinctive profile as it patrols its territory, using the open space above the water as a flyway. They also perch on riverside branches and telephone wires. Belted Kingfishers also make long commuting flights over fields and forests, far from water, so be prepared for the occasional surprise flyover wherever you are birding.