- ORDER: Coraciiformes
- FAMILY: Alcedinidae
In bright sunlight the Green Kingfisher sparkles like an emerald, but it is easy to overlook along dense, shaded streams where it forages for fish. It is a small, green-and-white kingfisher with an impressively large bill, and typically much less conspicuous than the noisy Belted Kingfisher. Females have two neat green bands across the breast; males have a contrasting rust-red chest. The Green Kingfisher barely makes it into the United States in southern Arizona and Texas, but its range extends south through South America, nearly to Patagonia.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Searching for a Green Kingfisher can be an exercise in patience. Walk quietly along rivers, streams, and lake edges (including oxbow lakes or resacas) and listen for the quietly distinctive “ticking” call. Keep your eyes peeled for flashes of movement, as these birds often zip along stream courses as they switch between fishing perches. Scanning tree branches and snags that overhang the water may reveal a silent kingfisher.
- Martín Pescador Verde (Spanish)
- Martin-pêcheur vert (French)
- Cool Facts
- Like other kingfishers, Green Kingfishers have two forward-facing, partially fused toes. (This is known as a "syndactyl" toe arrangement.) As the adults excavate the nest burrow with the bill, they use these toes to push the soil back out toward the burrow entrance like a small shovel.
- Green Kingfishers do not build a traditional nest, instead laying their eggs on bare soil at the end of a nest burrow. As the adults incubate the eggs and feed their young, remains of meals such as fish scales, bones, and insect wings pile up around the nest chamber.
- The sturdy bill of the Green Kingfisher is not just a tool for fishing, the bird uses it to hammer into hard-packed soil to build the nest burrow. A careful look at an adult’s bill tip during the early part of the nesting season sometimes reveals signs of abrasion or damage.
- The oldest Green Kingfisher was 5 years old when he was recaptured and released during a banding operation in Texas.