Defining Characteristics and Behavior:
The Belted kingfisher is a medium-sized bird with a large head, shaggy crest, and a long, thick bill. This species is blue-grey on the back and upper portions of the body with a white belly and a distinctive blue-gray breast band. Females are distinguished from males by a rusty-orange-colored breast band below the blue banding. Both males and females have a loud, rattling call that resonates over water. As skilled fishers, they hunt by diving into the water from a perch, capturing fish and other aquatic prey with their sharp bills.
Habitat and Distribution:
- Found throughout North and Central America, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
- They prefer habitats near freshwater bodies such as lakes, rivers, and streams, as well as coastal areas like estuaries, marshes, and mangroves.
- Their range extends from southern Alaska and Canada to northern South America.
- Belted kingfishers typically live for 6-10 years in the wild.
- They are monogamous breeders, and both parents take part in excavating a burrow in a riverbank or sandbank, where the female lays 5-8 eggs.
- Both parents incubate the eggs and care for the young until they fledge at around 3-4 weeks old.
- Belted kingfishers are migratory in some parts of their range, with some individuals traveling up to 3,000 miles each way.
- Belted kingfishers have a unique adaptation that allows them to see underwater. They have a translucent membrane that covers their eyes.
- Instead of building a nest, a mated pair will dig a burrow in the bank of a water source.
- Belted kingfishers can fly upwards of 36 mph.