Monday, August 10, 2009

At the pond... Belted Kingfisher

Belted KingfisherFemale Belted Kingfisher, Sawyer Park, Bend, Oregon on 13 June 2008 by Greg Gillson.


It hovers for a moment over the quiet pond. Then, wings closed, it plummets head first into the water with a resounding splash. It emerges, shaking off the water--a fish squirming in its bill--and flies off to a favorite tree to finish its meal.

Another time, as you walk along a tree-lined stream, a shadow bursts from the trees overhead and a loud rattling call follows the bird to a new hideout downstream.

Driving along coastal roads near an estuary, you spy a large-headed dark bluish bird perched on a wire overlooking the wetlands.

These are the usual impressions one gets of the Belted Kingfisher.

Kingfishers are chunky, short-legged birds with large dagger-like bills. The Belted Kingfisher has a shaggy crest and a blue belt across the upper chest. The female has an added rusty belt below the blue one.

This bird nests near water across Canada and the United States. In winter it retreats from most of Canada and some birds move south into Mexico and Central America.

The nest of the Belted Kingfisher is a tunnel dug deep into a sandy bank. At the end of the tunnel, perhaps 8 feet long, they lay 5-8 eggs in a small chamber.

The next time you are at your local pond, pay special attention and see if this interesting bird is present.