Belted Kingfisher

Megaceryle alcyon
Alcedinidae

Audubon print of Belted Kingfisher
Female has more colorful plumage; unusual for birds
Male only has a blue collar
Alert to passing prey from on high
Crab for dinner!
Crest is gone in flight
More colorful female in flight
Male returning to nest with food
Nest at end of burrow excavated in soil bank
Male with fish probably heading to nest
Handing over food for nestlings; female at left
Food is brought to nestlings
Juvenile female caught a fish

Slightly larger than a blue jay, the Belted Kingfisher is not a bird that is easily seen.  More often than not, its presence at Salter Grove is announced by its piercing rattle-like call along the Marsh Trail.  Unlike most other dimorphic bird species, the female is the one with a fancier plumage, the addition of a rusty band below the grayish blue bib that is present in both sexes.

It prefers to nest in banks of soil alongside bodies of water well supplied with fish 5 inches or smaller although it also eats aquatic invertebrates like insects and crayfish.  No nest has been discovered yet at Salter Grove, but the impressive runs of predacious game fish and solid presence of overwintering fish-eating ducks off shore suggests that Salter Grove provides a good supply of the fish in the size class required even if nesting habitat is scarce.