Kingfishers are fascinating birds that specialize in catching and eating fish. There are a handful of different kingfisher species in North America, but only one species that can be found in Wisconsin. Here is everything you need to know about that species.
Belted Kingfishers are short, compact birds with large pointed bills. Males are grayish blue with a large crest, a white underside, and a grayish blue band across their chest. Females look similar to the males but have rust on their sides and a second band (rust colored) underneath the blue chest band. Both males and females have a white spot near their eye on each side of the head.
Belted Kingfishers winter in Northern South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Southern United States. In spring they migrate north throughout most on the United States, Canada, and Alaska where they spend the summer. Some Belted Kingfishers stay in the Northern United States year round provided there is open water.
Diet and Foraging Habits
Belted Kingfishers are primarily fish-eaters, choosing to eat fish that are on the medium to small side such as sticklebacks and various minnows. They find and catch prey by sitting high on a perch and scanning for fish by sight. Once they spot something they want, they dive in head first and use their bill to grab onto the food item. In addition to fish, Belted Kingfishers will also eat amphibians, reptiles, crustaceans, and small mammals.
Where to Find This Bird
Belted Kingfishers can be found near water including rivers, ponds, streams, and lakes. Clear water is most optimal for kingfishers as they need to be able to see prey in order to catch it. Listen for this species rattling call and look for them swooping low as they fly from perch to perch.
Kingfishers are unique birds that occupy a very specific niche in the ecosystem. With just one species living in Wisconsin, any encounter with one of these vibrant and energetic birds is sure to be a Belted Kingfisher. Hopefully this post has helped answer some of your questions about the Kingfishers of Wisconsin.
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