Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon



This lady was a surprise.  She sat openly near passing traffic on a very long sea wall.  A great reason to turn around in busy traffic and quickly turn on the camera.   The thought was that she would be gone before I could get a close up, parking too close by then making her fly off in a panic, but she stayed still and focused on her business. Spell bound by her beauty I bustled and fumbled in a panic to get a good photo.  A beginner at photography, but nonetheless eager to get the best shots.

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Stocky and large-headed with a shaggy crest.  Bill is long, straight, thick, and pointed. Powder blue above with white underparts and blue breast band.  Females have additional rusty band across belly.  Almost always solitary, perched along edges of streams, lakes, and estuaries.  Flies along rivers and shorelines giving loud rattling calls. Hunts for fish by plunging headfirst into the water, either directly from a perch or hovering.

See: Merlin Bird ID (The Cornell Lab)

Belted Kingfisher by Marcia Verleta

Belted Kingfisher by Marcia Verleta


13″ (33 cm). Unmistakable in most areas; near Mexican border, see Ringed Kingfisher and Belted Kingfisher.  (Blue Jay is also blue-gray and crested, but has very different shape and markings.) Female has two chest bands, blue-gray and rusty; the latter is lacking on males.

Songs & Calls

Loud, penetrating rattle, given on the wing and when perched.


Breeds from Alaska eastward across southern Canada and south throughout most of United States.  Winters on Pacific Coast north to southeastern Alaska, and throughout South north to Great Lakes and along Atlantic Coast to New England.



Belted Kingfisher by Marcia Verleta

Belted Kingfisher by Marcia Verleta


A few may overwinter as far north as water remains open, including southern coast of Alaska.  Some from North America migrate as far south as Central America, West Indies, northern South America. Migrants may tend to follow rivers, lakeshores, coastlines.

Conservation Status

Recent surveys indicate declines in population. Maybe vulnerable to loss of nesting sites and to disturbance during breeding season.


Streams, lakes, bays, coasts’ nests in banks. During winter and migration, may be found in almost any waterside habitat, including the edges of small streams and ponds, large rivers and lakes, marshes, estuaries, and rocky coastlines; seems to require only clear water for fishing. During breeding season, more restricted to areas with suitable dirt banks for nesting holes.

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Feeding Behavior

Forages by plungin headfirst into water, capturing fish near surface with bill. Watches for fish from branch, wire, rock or other perch above water, or may hover above water before diving. Bones, scales, and other indigestible parts of prey are coughed up later as pellets.


Mostly small fish. Typically feeds on small fish, usually those less than 4-5″ long. Also eats crayfish, frogs, tadpoles, aquatic insects. Occasionally takes prey away from water, including small mammals, young birds, lizards, Reported to eat berries at times.


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Belted Kingfisher by Marcia Verleta

Belted Kingfisher by Marcia Verleta















About Dream Catcher

The heart knows what it wants. We can be surprised or welcoming to what we get. As life unfolds we can be prepared. We are fortunate to know and have what we truly desire. I enjoy waking up to the realization that my dreams are my reality.