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Gone Fishin' with the Belted Kingfisher
Ceryle alcyon

Did you ever wonder where punk-rockers got the idea of buzz-cuts and loud music? Look and listen no farther than your watershed for a blue cockade and rattling call.

Kingfishers fly inside the solitude of still pools, whose silence is broken by staccato trills.

The belted kingfisher spends all of its time near water, catching small fish (among other things) from rivers, streams, and ponds. Except for terns, kingfishers are the only small birds that high-dive headlong into the water.

Lofty Stealth Attacks

Neither stillness nor silence matter much to kingfishers. They often perch motionless, ambushed on tree limbs overhanging the water. They defend a territory around the perch and usually are spaced 0.5 to 2 miles apart along watercourses.

Although fish such as sculpins comprise about 90 percent of their diet, adults also eat crayfish, clams, amphibians, mice, and fruit. Parent birds also feed insects to their youngsters.

Tunnel Vision

Kingfishers use their big heads and sturdy, sharp bills to dig a burrow several feet deep into steep banks of rivers and streams. Typically they lay 6-8 white eggs in late April/early May. Both parents incubate for about 3.5 weeks. Motley-looking teenyboppers leave the nest about 5 weeks after hatching.

Hanging Out Far and Wide

Kingfishers breed throughout most of the U.S. and Canada south of the arctic. Locally, you can find them along many streams, such as Rock Creek in Noble Woods Park and Beaverton Creek in Tualatin Hills Nature Park.

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