The Belted Kingfisher's distinctive rattle and shaggy mane announce areas of shallow, calm waters. With a precise headfirst dive, it can catch fish at depths of up to 2 ft. (61 cm). This bird's large head and bill might help it penetrate the water's surface while foraging. Female kingfishers have the traditional female reproductive role, but, like phalaropes, they are more colorful than their mates. A breeding pair of kingfishers alternates in excavating their nest burrow. They use their bills to chip away at the dirt and then kick the dirt out of the tunnel with their small feet. Alcyon (Halcyone) was the daughter of the wind god in Greek mythology; she and her husband were transformed into kingfishers.
I.D.: General: blue upperparts; shaggy blue crest; blue breast band; white collar; long, straight bill; short legs; white underwings; small, white patch near the eye. Female: rust-colored 'belt' (occasionally incomplete). Male: no 'belt.'
Size: L 11-14 in. (28-36 cm).
Range: uncommon to common spring, summer and fall breeder throughout the Rockies; uncommon winter resident in the U.S. Rockies; rare winter resident in the Canadian Rockies.
Habitat: Summer: large rivers, lakes and beaver ponds, adjacent to earth banks.
Winter: open rivers.
Nesting: in a cavity at the end of an earth burrow, often up to 7 ft. (2.1 m) deep, dug by the pair with their bills and claws; pair incubates 6-7 eggs for up to 24 days.
Feeding: dives headfirst, either from a perch or from a hover above the water; eats mostly small fish, aquatic invertebrates and tadpoles.
Voice: fast, repetitive rattle-crrrr-crrrr-crrrr-crrrr-like a tea cup shaking on a saucer.
Similar Species: none.