You often hear a Belted Kingfisher before you see it. Their territorial, mechanical “rattle” is quite distinctive and issued frequently. This call is just one of their more distinctive traits. They are one of the few species of birds where the female’s plumage (two “belts” on breast) is more colorful than the male’s (one breast “belt”). Kingfishers have a distinctive pattern of wingbeats: whereas most birds beat their wings several times and then glide, kingfishers’ wingbeats are irregular and intermittent, lacking the flap and glide pattern. Kingfishers have the unusual ability to hover in one spot while surveying the water 20 to 40 feet below for fish or other prey. When they capture a fish, they often return to a branch and whack it multiple times against the branch to assure its compliance in being swallowed head first without a struggle. Even the nesting site of a Belted Kingfisher is fairly unusual — a chamber located at the end of a 3 to 6-foot-long bank burrow they dig with their bill and feet.
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