Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) overlooking the Truckee River, Idlewild Park, Reno. Jan 2015. Photo: K. McCutcheon.
- Blue on head and back.
- White neck-ring, white belly.
- Thick bill.
- Both sexes have a blue “belt” on chest.
- Females have a band of orange/brown on chest.
You might hear the call of the Belted Kingfisher before you see it — a harsh, loud rattle coming from the trees along the river’s edge. Kingfishers hunt from perches over clear open water, diving bill-first to capture prey such as fish, crayfish and tadpoles. They carry these items back to their perch to eat, sometimes stopping to beat their prey against rocks, to kill them. Kingfishers are known to breed along the Truckee River and are present here throughout the year (see eBird database).
To find a kingfisher nest, don’t look to the trees; Kingfishers nest in underground burrows. Breeding pairs form during March-July, and the male and female Kingfisher work together to dig a horizontal hole in a stream bank — usually about 1 to 3 feet below the top of the bank and 6 or 7 feet deep. Kingfisher holes generally slope upward to the nesting chamber, keeping eggs dry during floods. Females lay 6 to 8 eggs at a time, which the male and female take turns incubating for approximately 24 days. Both parents feed the young, which remain in the nest for about 5 weeks.
Photos & Information needed!
Do you have more information on Belted Kingfishers, or original photographs taken along the Truckee River? If so, please contribute photos and observations here, or email information to email@example.com. Thanks!
Beedy, Edward C. and Pandolfino, Edward R. 2013. Birds of the Sierra Nevada. Berkeley: University of California Press
Floyd, Ted; Elphic, Chris; Chisholm, Grant; Mack, Kevin; Elston, Robert; Ammon, Elisabeth; and John Boone. 2007. Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Nevada. Reno: University of Nevada Press.
Kelly, Jeffrey F., Eli S. Bridge and Michael J. Hamas. 2009. Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Available at: http://0-bna.birds.cornell.edu.innopac.library.unr.edu/bna/species/084