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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Sep 16, 2011

Belted Kingfisher another encounter

Belted Kingfisher perched

It really made my day when I realized on my last outing  that I finally had another Belted Kingfisher in my sights.  At first though, I kept hearing this odd sound.  I knew it belonged to a bird, but not which one and I kept envisioning a crane or heron, but even that sound wouldn't match what I heard.  Then I saw a couple of fair sized birds fly by so fast it made my head spin.  I had no time to raise my camera, never mind take the shot and the sound was coming from these birds.  And then they were simply gone.

Naturally I came alive with curiosity, but the birds did not show themselves again, at least not right then.  I continued on and got some very nice shots of several species of birds, including a juvenile Swainson's hawk.  As I circled one pond, heading for the other just a short distance away, those same birds flashed by me again.  This time I managed to get one photo, but they were flying so fast that it was quite blurred.  Again the birds were making that sound, which I can't even begin to describe.  This time though one of them landed at the very top of a tall tree.  Naturally I wasted no time in taking some photos, which is when I realized that these birds had to be Belted Kingfishers.

Kingfisher male
Male Belted Kingfisher
The Belted Kingfisher is unique in shape and so is easily distinguished from other birds.  A large, heavy bill, seemingly several times larger than it's head at first glance, is quite prominent as a distinguishing feature.  A large head with a ragged crest, usually held erect, makes it appear as though this kingfisher has a very short body.  Another thing to keep in mind when looking for the Belted Kingfisher, is that the female is more colorful than the male, with a redish brown 'vest' prominently displayed around her chest.  Both male and female have a blue breast band beneath a white throat, as well as a white belly, while the rest of the body is blue gray in color.   I was very fortunate to catch photos of both a male and female this time, so you can see the difference.

Belted Kingfisher Female
Female Kingfisher

The Belted Kingfisher eats fish, amphibians, snails, flies, small mammals and reptiles.  Their main diet however, consists of fish.  You will see them perched, ready to launch themselves headfirst into the water, on a branch or other surface just above the water.  They may also be seen hovering over the water briefly in search of prey.  Because of their diet, their home is a habitat that is always near bodies of water or waterways.


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