Belted Kingfisher

Megaceryle alcyon

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
Male scanning for fish

Slightly larger than a Blue Jay, the Belted Kingfisher is not a bird that is often seen at Salter Grove.  Its occurrence at Salter Grove is somewhat unpredictable but is more likely when the water is high in South Cove.

More often than not, its presence 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 upward sloping tunnels excavated in banks of soil alongside bodies of water well supplied with fish 5" or smaller.  It will also eat aquatic invertebrates like insects and crayfish.  The impressive runs of predacious game fish and contingents of overwintering fish-eating ducks offshore suggest that Salter Grove provides a good supply of the fish in the size class required even if suitable nesting habitat is not available.