Ringed Kingfisher

Ringed Kingfisher, Megaceryle torquata

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Scientific name: Megaceryle torquata

Status: [Least Concern] Widespread and fairly common in lowlands and valleys to about 1500 metres. Found along rivers and streams, as well as lakes, lagoons, and large ponds.

Distribution: Southeastern Texas in the United States through Central America to Tierra del Fuego in South America

Description: Largest kingfisher in western hemisphere. One of two kingfishers with blue-gray backs. 40–41 cm long, with deep blue or bluish-gray plumage with white markings, a shaggy crest and a broad white collar around the neck. Its most distinguishing characteristic is the entire rufous belly, which also covers the entire breast of the male. Females are more colorful than the male (i.e., reverse sexual dimorphism) and have a bluish-gray breast and a narrow white stripe separating the breast from the belly. Males have rufous chests and bellies. Females have a blue-gray chest band above a rufous belly.

Call: loud rasping krek

Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives 2.5 license Audio by: Nathan Pieplow

Song: a loud, penetrating rattle given on the wing and when perched

Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives 2.5 license Audio by: Don Jones

Food: Fish, small mammals, insects, small reptiles and berries

Habits: It is often seen perched prominently on trees, posts, or other suitable "watchpoints" close to water before plunging in head first after its fish prey. The breeding habitat is areas near large bodies of water, usually in heavily wooded areas where it finds a perch to hunt from. It is mostly a sedentary species, remaining in territories all year long. Both parents excavate the tunnel, incubate the eggs and feed the young.

Nest: a horizontal tunnel made in a river bank or sand bank

Eggs: 3 to 6 eggs

Similar species: Belted Kingfisher is smaller, has less rufous below and on chest.

Other names: Martin-pêcheur à ventre roux (Français); Rotbrustfischer (Deutsch); Martín Gigante Neotropical (Español)


[1] Gehlbach, F. R., Dillon, D. O., Harrell, H. L., Kennedy, S. E., & Wilson, K. R. (1976). Avifauna of the Rio Corona, Tamaulipas, Mexico: Northeastern limit of the tropics. The Auk, 93(1), 53-65.

[2] Obando-Calderón, G., Chaves-Campos, J., Garrigues, R., Montoya, M., Ramirez, O., Sandoval, L., et al. (2009). Lista oficial de las aves de Costa Rica 2009. San José, Costa Rica: Boletín de la Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica.

[3] Vilella, F. J., & Baldassarre, G. A. (2010). Abundance and distribution of waterbirds in the llanos of Venezuela. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 122(1), 102-115. doi: 10.1676/09-070.1


The Internet Bird Collection: Photos, videos, and sounds

VIREO: Visual Resources for Ornithology

Ringed Kingfisher Subspecies
Scientific name Range
Megaceryle torquata torquata Extreme s Texas to n Argentina; Trinidad; Isla Margarita
Megaceryle torquata stellata S Chile and Argentina to Tierra del Fuego; > to ne Argentina
Megaceryle torquata stictipennis Lesser Antilles (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica, Grenada)

[66] Last updated: September 2, 2012 at 7:29 pm | No comments

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