The only water kingfisher that is commonly found throughout the United States and Canada is the Belted Kingfisher. This stocky, medium-sized bird measuring 28-35cm (11-14inches) in length spends most of its time patrolling rivers and shorelines in search of small fish and crayfish. This is one of the few rare species of birds in which the females actually sport a more colourful and vibrant plumage.

Where to Find the Belted Kingfisher

As stated, these birds reside close to waterways and nest in a variety of burrows by digging into soft earthen banks, typically close to the water as well. During the summer months, these birds can be found in most Canadian provinces and into Alaska and year-round in many areas of the continental United States. You can also find these birds throughout the year along Canada’s western coast through British Columbia, Yukon, and southern Alaska as well. Those that do migrate ensure they end up in warm locations where the water does not freeze, which includes the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and Northern regions of a few South American countries.

 

Identification

These birds feature a fairly large head that features a shaggy crest on the top and back of the head and accented with a thick, pointed bill for foraging food. Their plumage is a powder blue colour with white underparts that also have a broad, blue breast band.

The female, however, shares many similarities in colouring but features a rust-coloured band across the upper belly that flows down their flanks. In fact, often times, adult females can be larger in size than their male counterparts.

female-belted-kingfisher

Female Belted Kingfisher

Vocals

Not a terribly vocal species, both female and male Belted Kingfish produce a mechanical rattle when disturbed or alerted of danger. When threatened they will also let out a scream or harsh call to fend off intruders.