This belted kingfisher is staying close to the water

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The belted kingfisher is a common North American bird that looks remotely similar to a blue jay. It spends most of its time near water where it will dive to catch small fish, crayfish or other small animals that frequent shorelines.

On May 15, I photographed the female belted kingfisher shown here as it waited to feed one of its fledglings that called from a brushy shore. She has a bluegill in her mouth.

Last spring, I had located a small hole near the top of a vertical 20-foot-high dirt bank. A pair of bank swallows were nesting in the hole then. This spring, I observed that the hole was much larger and that a pair of belted kingfishers had claimed it. Such is nature's way.

The belted kingfisher has a ragged crest, a rather oversized head, and a long beak. It stays all year long in Southeast Missouri. The unique call of the belted kingfisher sounds to me like a loud rattling sputtering sound a toy motorboat might make.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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