Belted Kingfisher – Avian Fishers Supreme

by Larry Jordan on October 14, 2008

Belted Kingfisher Female photo by Steve Berliner

The female Belted Kingfisher is one of the few females that is more brightly colored than the male of the species in the avian world. You will most likely find these interesting birds sitting on a wire over a creek doing what they do best; catching fish. These medium size birds are expert fishers as they spy their prey from a perch overhanging the water below. It can be an overhanging branch or a telephone wire but you will see them looking intensely down into the water for a meal.

The Belted Kingfisher is a solitary bird except during nesting season when a pair will defend their territory against other kingfishers. A territory along a stream, brook, river, estuary, pond or lake will be guarded as well as the vegetation along the shoreline. This is where you will often hear the loud rattling call before spotting the bright white collar of this bird that, it seams, must have been the model for Don King’s barber. [audio:]

Belted Kingfisher Female photo by Tyler Allred

The nesting site of the Belted Kingfisher pair is a burrow in the bank of the river. The burrow entrance usually leads to a tunnel which slopes upward into the river bank up to eight feet in depth. From there they can safely raise their 5 to 8 chicks out of harms way.

Belted Kingfisher male photo by Steve Berliner

Luckily for us here in North America, these beautiful, stout birds can be found all across our continent. As I said, usually perched prominently on a tree, post, wire or other lookout watching for a tasty morsel to go swimming by as they get ready to plunge, head first into the water after their prize.  Whenever I am traveling the roads in Northern California I always check the power lines above creeks, streams and rivers for the Belted Kingfisher.  When I spot one, like I did a few weeks ago on my way into town, I always pull off the road and watch them fish.  It just brings a smile to my face.  Keep an eye out for them and you will begin to see them often and have the joy of watching a true fisher supreme.

Below is a short video showing a magnificent Malachite Kingfisher diving for fish, somewhere in Africa no doubt. But you can see how all of the kingfisher species dive for fish.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sheri Fresonke Harper October 14, 2008 at 8:02 pm

Awesome photo’s, we just spotted Kingfisher’s off the Arboretum in Seattle. 🙂 Sheri


Larry October 14, 2008 at 10:30 pm

Hi Sheri, Thanks for stopping by! Make sure you visit my photographer friends that took those great photos by clicking on each photo. That will take you to their photo page!


Gallicissa October 15, 2008 at 11:54 pm

Hi Larry,
This looks a mega bird just its species name Megaceryle suggests! We have a Ceryle here in the form of Pied Kingfisher, which also look great.

Gallicissas last blog post..Lately in my garden


Ambika October 16, 2008 at 6:09 am

The audio link was really wonderful, and so too the pictures. I didnt know thr was a kingfisher variety like this….learn something new everyday!

Ambikas last blog post..The great horned owl at Nanmangalam


Thomas October 16, 2008 at 8:14 am

you have captured these beauties very well…the one with the wings spread out is the best for me, the details in all pics are pretty good

Thomass last blog post..Birding in India – # 3


Gallicissa October 16, 2008 at 11:32 am

Did I say species name? Oops! I meant the generic name of course, pardon.

Gallicissas last blog post..Lately in my garden


Eric October 16, 2008 at 7:12 pm

That is a great post about one of my favorite birds, yet one that is also a nemesis. Steve has really managed to capture the beauty of the kingfisher. A good kingfisher photo always seems to evade me. Still, like you, I love to watch them fish the estuaries here.

Erics last blog post..Lymnaea Snail Eggs


Larry October 17, 2008 at 8:52 am

Amila – Nice to hear from you. I have looked up the Pied Kingfisher and they look really cool too.

Ambika – I didn’t know until I wrote this post that there was a Malachite Kingfisher!

Thomas – Make sure to click on the photos to go to the photographer’s page….good stuff!

Eric – Why a nemesis?


eric October 17, 2008 at 10:23 am

A nemesis because my best images of the kingfisher are still from a long ways away, each time I find myself near a kingfisher they laugh at me and bolt before I can even lift the camera into position.

erics last blog post..Lymnaea Snail Eggs


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