Fun Facts

  • Males and females can be told apart by the presence or absence of a rusty "belt" halfway down the belly: Females have it; males don't. 
  • Other North American members of this family include the Ringed Kingfisher and Green Kingfisher, which occur in parts of Arizona and Texas. An additional species, the Amazon Kingfisher, was also recently sighted in Texas.

Bird of the Month

September 2012

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)


Photo © Bill Hill

Plunging beak-first into a rushing river, the kingfisher nabs its slippery prey. The only member of its family locally, the Belted Kingfisher is distinct in its behavior and appearance. This species is easily found at the Carmel River Lagoon and at Andrew Molera State Park, along the Big Sur River. Its loud rattling call is often the first clue to its presence, as birds fly from one fishing spot to the next.
This bird's large head with shaggy crest is proportional to its long, dagger-like bill—the perfect fishing tool. The rest of the body may look small in comparison, but that's a useful thing when nesting season comes around. These birds nest in burrows on the sides of riverbanks, concealing their eggs deep within and safe from predators.