Georgia Wildlife Web

Home Glossary Classification Conservation Status Regions of Georgia Fishes of Georgia Make a Donation

Species Description

Belted Kingfisher

Megaceryle alcyon


Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Alcedinidae

Description

Slate- blue upperparts, wings, breast band, and head; white neck band, belly, and undertail coverts; black bill, legs, and feet. Females have a rusty belly band. 33 cm (13 in) in length. The Belted Kingfisher has a large crested head and large bill. Its call is a rattle, usually given while in flight.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in early April, peaks in May, and extends until mid-June. Breeding habitat is associated with water. The Belted Kingfisher male and female dig a burrow in banks along rivers and other water sources. The nest is constructed within the burrow from leaves and grass. The female lays 5-8 (usually 6-7) eggs that both adults take turns incubating for 23-24 days. The young are altricial and fledge about 23 or more days after hatching. The nestling period is dependent on the number of young in the nest. More young in a nest are better able to keep warm, and therefore develop faster. The young are taught to fish by the adults. For about 10 days after they leave the nest, the young continue to receive parental care.

Natural History

When this species is not breeding, its main habitat requirements are foraging areas which include water and perches. The diet consists mostly of fish, but also includes aquatic insects and small vertebrates. The Belted Kingfisher finds its food by sitting near or over the water, and catches it by diving into the water from the perch. This species is migratory.

Range

Belted Kingfisher Region Map The Belted Kingfisher occurs throughout most of the United States and Canada during the breeding season. In the winter it is found in the southern half of the United States south to northern South America. In Georgia these birds are found throughout the state all year.

Conservation Status

This species is common and not listed as Threatened or Endangered in any portion of its southeastern range.

Similar Species

The most similar species is the Ringed Kingfisher, which within in the United States occurs only in the southern tip of Texas. The Ringed Kingfisher is larger than the Belted Kingfisher, and can be differentiated by color differences. The female Ringed Kingfisher has a white breast band between the rust belly and the blue upper breast. The male has a completely rust breast and belly.