Belted KingfisherCeryle alcyon (Linnaeus)
Status Common in summer, rare in winter. Breeds. Migrants generally first appear in early to mid-April (average date of first appearance 9 April, earliest 29 March; other earlier reports probably of overwintering birds). It occurs in summer mainly along the shores of inland streams where its nesting requirements are met. Although outbound migrants are most common in September and October, for example on offshore islands where they have not nested, stragglers are frequent through December, especially on Christmas Bird Counts. Although most that stay beyond this month probably perish, a few have successfully wintered in areas from Yarmouth County to Cape Breton.
Description Length: 30-38 cm. Adult male: Head bluish gray with ragged crest; white spot in front of eye; bold white band around neck, not quite meeting behind; back, wings and tail bluish gray; wings and tail flecked with rows of small white dots; bluish gray band across breast; underparts otherwise white; bill heavy and bluish black. Adult female: Similar but, in addition to a breast band like that of the male, has a bright cinnamon band across lower breast extending down sides of belly.
Breeding Nest: In a tunnel in a sandbank or sawdust pile where undermining has created a perpendicular wall. There is considerable variation in depth of tunnels, 120-160 cm perhaps being average. The chamber (or nest proper) at the end of the passageway is sometimes lined sparingly with grass or feathers. The nest site is usually near a lake shore or stream, but sometimes it is a considerable distance from water. Eggs: 6-10, usually 7 or 8; white. A nest found on 26 May 1918 in a sandbank at White Rock, Kings County, contained six eggs; one in a sawdust bank examined on 5 June 1918 at Little River Lake, Kings County, contained eight. The eggs in both were fresh and laying may not have been completed. On 23 June 1915 a nest at White Rock contained young that were large enough to come to the tunnel entrance, where they were seen taking food from one of the parent birds.
Range Breeds from Alaska east to middle Labrador and Newfoundland, south to the Gulf States and southern California. Winters from southeastern Alaska, southern British Columbia, and occasionally in other parts of extreme southern Canada, south to the West Indies and Panama.
Remarks If given an opportunity, this bird can be destructive to trout and young salmon in fish hatcheries and rearing ponds, and provision has been made in our statutes whereby control measures may be applied under these abnormal conditions. In its natural habitat the bird takes those fishes most readily caught; and it is fair to assume that in the process of feeding it destroys enough sluggish, coarse, and enemy fish to offset the few fast-swimming young trout and salmon it may be able to capture. Formerly legal targets for gunners at all seasons, kingfishers are now protected by law throughout the year.
The bird's haunts are lake shores and the margins of woodland streams. There it will be found perched on a limb overhanging the water, silently watching for a chance to plunge headlong for unsuspecting prey that venture too near the surface. If disturbed it will fly off ahead, giving its familiar "rattle" as it goes. Its very presence adds to the beauty and charm of the surroundings.
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