Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Kevin Cole/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher
Ceryle alcyon
Perching Birds | Family: Kingfishers, Alcedinidae

An estimated 44% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

While searching for fish, the familiar Belted Kingfisher perches conspicuously on a limb over a river or lake. On sighting a fish it flies from its post and hovers like a tern over the water before plunging after its prey. In addition, it may eat crabs, crayfish, salamanders, lizards, mice, and insects. Often a kingfisher patrols a regular beat along a stream or lakeshore, stopping at favorite exposed perches along the way. When flying from one perch to another, often a good distance apart, it utters its loud rattling call.

Description

13" (33 cm). A pigeon-sized bird, blue-gray above, white below, with bushy crest, dagger-like bill. Male has blue-gray breast band; female similar, but also has chestnut belly band.

Voice

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

Nesting

5-8 white eggs in an unlined chamber at the end of a tunnel up to 8' (2.5 m) long, dug in a sand or gravel bank.

Habitat

Rivers, lakes, and saltwater estuaries.

Range/Migration

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.