Vol. 15 No. 3
"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts."- Rachel Carson
In this issue...
Did You Know?
Did You Know?
The Belted Kingfisher (ceryle alcyon) is found across the United States migrating to the south in winter and returning in spring. It's an attractive medium-sized bird of up to 12 inches in length. It has gorgeous blue/black coloring with a definite head crest. The belly is white with a blue/grey band across the chest. The female has an additional brown to rust toned chest band.
Kingfishers love to perch. Many times they do so on branches, wires, pier pilings, or dock framework along the shore to watch for small fish in the water. From the perch or from a hover above the water, they plunge-dive bill-first into the water and spear or catch the fish. They hold it by the tail and return to the perch. They swallow it head-first right away or "play with" or "prepare" it by repeatedly swinging it against the perch. Then they eat it. On occasion, they'll take aquatic insects, small reptiles and amphibians.
They build tunnel nests into riverbanks about 2 -3' from the top. The nests are 2"-4" in diameter and up to 10' in length. The tunnel leads to a nesting chamber where the female lays 4 or 5 white eggs. Both the male and female incubate. The eggs hatch in about 25 days and the babies leave the nest a month later. If you see a likely hole in a vertical shore, look closely at the bottom of the entrance. You may see tracks from the bird's tiny feet.
Kingfisher is easily recognized and so is it's call-a loud rattle sound.
The wing beats are also very distinct when flying. Kingfishers usually
mate for life but only remain together during mating, nesting and rearing
the young. They are day migraters, moving along shores and coastlines.
Some studies show a decline in numbers as available shoreline nesting
areas disappear or are disturbed. (See Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior,
National Audubon Society.)