Skip Navigation

Species Search:
FieldGuidesthreatened and/or endangered search resultsthreatened and/or endangered


Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon


enlarge +

Belted Kingfisher, male
credit: Kevin Cole/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

All Images


Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

Family: Alcedinidae, Kingfishers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has blue-gray back, upper wings, and tail, wings in particular are adorned with small white spots. Head, which has shaggy crest, is also blue-gray (but note white spot in front of eye); separated from blue-gray breast band by broad, white collar. Underparts are otherwise white. In flight, note contrast between white coverts and dark flight feathers on underwing, and white wing patch at base of outer flight feathers on upper wing. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but note the prominent orange-red band on belly, extending along flanks at base of wing, most obvious in flight. JUVENILE Similar to respective sex adult, but with reddish mottling on otherwise blue breast band.

Dimensions Length: 13" (33 cm)

Habitat Widespread and generally common close to clear, fish-rich waters, typically rivers and lakes in summer, but also estuaries in winter. Present year-round in southern parts, but northern birds are migratory summer visitors.

Observation Tips Easy to find because it perches prominently near water. Rattling call often attracts attention.

Range Mid-Atlantic, Plains, Florida, Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes, Northwest, Eastern Canada, California, Texas, Western Canada, Southeast, New England, Alaska, Southwest

Voice Typical call is a distinctive, loud, harsh rattle.

Discussion North America's only widespread kingfisher. Typically feeds by diving for fish from perch overlooking water. Alert to danger, and seldom tolerant of close human approaches. Nests in riverbank burrows. Sexes are dissimilar.