Hey guys welcome back! Today’s bird, the belted kingfisher, is one of only two species of kingfisher found in North America. The other, the green kingfisher, is primarily found in Mexico and Central America, but their range does stretch north into extreme southern Texas, and sometimes Arizona. I think that’s why I love seeing the belted kingfisher; it’s a unique experience since it’s pretty much the only bird of its kind in this part of the world. There are plenty of kingfisher species in other parts of the world, some quite beautiful, but we have this one, and their pretty cool.
As the name might suggest, belted kingfishers feed primarily on fish, as well as crustaceans such as crayfish. They’re loud and make a sort of rattling sound. In fact, you’ll often hear them before you see them. They dive from flight, and sometimes from a hover, straight into the water. It really is a pretty cool sight. The belted kingfisher is unique for another reason too. See the picture at the top of this post? That kingfisher is mostly a grey-blue and has a “belt” of a chestnut brown. Well, believe it or not, that’s a female! The male of the species lacks the brown color, making it one of the rare bird species where the female is the more brightly colored of the two!
Belted kingfishers are year round residents throughout most of the U.S. and while common, they aren’t very plentiful. So while you may see one or two frequently, you typically won’t see more than that at any given time. I’ve seen them nearly everywhere I’ve birded, but I remember the first time I saw one (which is also to date the only time I’ve seen more than one together.) It was in Central Park, in an area called the Ravine. At the time, the Ravine was a small stream through a heavily wooded area (it’s since been dredged and widened), and I heard a kingfisher. I used the fact that I worked there, and was in uniform, to “allow” myself through the fence that protected the wooded area, and went searching. I got pretty deep in, and finally, through the thick branches of a fallen black willow, I saw not one, but two belted kingfishers! Funny how sometimes you remember the first time you saw a species, and other times you don’t. And with that, I think we’ll wrap it up for this time. Next time is a bird we’ve probably all have seen, even if very few of us have seen one up close. I’ll explain then, see you all then!