Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)

Belted Kingfisher

[order] CORACIIFORMES | [family] Alcedinidae | [latin] Ceryle alcyon | [UK] Belted Kingfisher | [FR] Alcyon d’Amerique | [DE] Gurtelfischer | [ES] Martin Gigante Norteamericano | [NL] Bandijsvogel


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Ceryle alcyon
Megaceryle alcyon NA widespread MA, n SA

Physical charateristics

The Belted Kingfisher is a medium-sized, stocky bird with a large, crested head, and a long, solid bill. The bird has a small white spot by each eye, at the base of the bill. Its back is an overall slate blue color. The white belly is transected by a slate blue band, topped with a white collar. The female has an additional rufous band and rufous coloring on the sides of the belly.
Belted Kingfishers perch or hover over open water, watching for prey. Once prey is sighted, they dive headfirst into the water and seize it with their bills. Typically prey is taken near the surface, and the birds do not submerge themselves completely. Belted Kingfishers are highly territorial and vigorously defend their territories. Their most common call is a dry rattle, often given in flight.

Listen to the sound of Belted Kingfisher

[audio: Kingfisher.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 48 cm wingspan max.: 58 cm
size min.: 28 cm size max.: 34 cm
incubation min.: 22 days incubation max.: 24 days
fledging min.: 18 days fledging max.: 24 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 8  


North America : widespread


Belted Kingfishers are found along shorelines and wetlands in fresh and salt water environments. They require sandy vertical banks for nest burrows and clear water so they can see their aquatic prey.


The Belted Kingfisher nests in burrows dug in sandy banks. Two of its toes are fused together and act as a shovel for digging these burrows. Both the male and the female incubate the 6-7 eggs that she lays in the burrow. Both parents regurgitate fish to feed the young.

Feeding habits

Belted Kingfishers almost always take food from the water, feeding predominantly on small fish. They will also prey on crayfish, frogs, tadpoles, and other aquatic dwellers.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 14,000,000 km2. It has a large global population estimated to be 2,200,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2003). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Belted Kingfisher status Least Concern


Migratory. Moves from the N areas in Alaska and Canada S to Mexico, Central and South carribean America. Population in Moderate area (roughly Central North America are resident). In winter they occupy the West Indies and as far south as Panama and the northern coast of South America. Some remain in the summer range, as far north as they can find open water. (Cornell)

Distribution map

Belted Kingfisher distribution range map

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