ARTISTS AND BIRDS

"Looking Way Good"

Belted Kingfisher


kingfisherI have always appreciated the fact that women get to use makeup. With a little help of powder and paint we can look our best. But what about birds?

The adult female Belted Kingfisher is one of the few bird species that is more colorful than the male. How do you like that ladies? This is called reverse sexual dimorphism. Both sexes have a slate blue head, a white collar, a blue band on the chest, and white underparts. Both have slate blue backs and wings, but the females have a rufous band across the belly that extends down the flanks. Wow! Looking way good!

Both Kingfisher mates excavate nests in a horizontal tunnel, in a river or sand bank, for the female to lay and incubate eggs. Since the female nests in a tunnel, is not so visible to predators, this could be the reason why the ‘Mrs.’ can be colorful and doesn’t have to be drab and dull like other females.

‘Mr.’ Kingfisher is also significant. He is a great fisherman. He is often seen on telephone pole wires, posts, and trees close to water, just waiting for an opportunity to plunge head first into the water for a tasty meal. Having a large head, a huge bill and a short tail, gives him the right to be a King-Fisher. He plunges in, catches the prey, turns up and quickly comes flying out of the water with the help of that short tail. You can see this performance over and over again at the Tonaquint Pond.

The Kingfisher is a common ‘waterside’ resident throughout North America. We have seen it flying up the Santa Clara River many times. If you hear a loud rattling cry of a bird on the wing, follow the sound and look closely, because it is probably the Belted Kingfisher.

Marilyn Davis is the Artist of the female Belted Kingfisher. For questions about birds or Red Cliffs Audubon monthly activities call 435 673-0996.



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