The Belted Kingfisher dashes through the air, warning intruders with its rapid-fire, rattling call. In spring, the best places to see Belted Kingfishers are along sandy banks -- they are busy digging burrows, where they will nest. The holes typically reach three to six feet into the bank, but some nesting holes can extend fifteen feet.
Burrowing Belted Kingfisher
Written by Frances Wood
This is BirdNote!
[Rattling Call of Belted Kingfisher]
There’s no other sound along a stream or waterway quite like the reverberating metallic call of a Belted Kingfisher. [Rattling Call of Belted Kingfisher]
As the showy, crested kingfisher flies overhead, strong, staccato wing-beats and white wing-patches flash a Morse-code pattern. The bird’s power is in its large head and sharp bill. The king of fishers hovers over water, then dives headfirst to catch its prey in its bill. Emerging from the water, the bird flies back to a perch. There it juggles the meal—usually a fish, frog, or crawdad—into position and gulps it down.
At this time of year, the best places to see Belted Kingfishers are along sandy banks, where they are busy digging nesting burrows. These stocky, short-legged birds use their front claws — with two forward-pointing toes fused together for added strength —and their strong bills, to dig holes. The holes typically reach three to six feet into the sandy bank, but some nesting holes can extend fifteen feet.
When not perching, fishing, or building a nesting burrow, the Belted Kingfisher dashes through the air, warning intruders with its rapid-fire call. [Rattling Call of Belted Kingfisher]
You, too, can dig deeper — and see a photo — when you come to our website, birdnote.org. I’m Michael Stein.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by S.R. Pantle.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org April 2017/2019/2022 Narrator: Michael Stein
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