Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) female. Phil Rowntree photo.

The Kingfisher carries one of the few bird names that’s locked into one gender. That’s especially out of joint because this species is one of the few where the female is more colorful than the male. She has the cinnamon bib and vest, giving her three colors, where the male has only two. Shouldn’t she be called Queenfisher? Photographer Phil Rowntree caught her sitting on a wire scanning the waters below for prey. That’s their preferred mode of hunting. When she spots something she will dive headfirst into the water and grab it with that heavy, powerful beak.

Kingfishers have some things in common with Burrowing Owls. They nest in burrows in a dirt bank next to water, but — unlike Western Burrowing Owls — they dig the burrows themselves. Both parents do the work. Their tunnels can be as much as eight feet long, and they slope upward, with the nest cavity at the end. Also like owls, Kingfishers cough up pellets containing the indigestible part of their diet, and naturalists can study the pellets to see what the birds eat. However, to date no one to my knowledge has spotted a Kingfisher pellet here in or near the park.

More about them: Audubon Wikipedia Cornell Previous posts here.

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