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Belted Kingfishers Feeding

4-22-19 belted kingfisher_U1A6927If you’ve never witnessed what a Belted Kingfisher does to subdue its prey once it has caught it, you owe yourself this experience now that most bodies of water are open and kingfishers are present. Unlike many other avian fish-, frog- and crayfish-eaters, kingfishers don’t simply spear or clasp their prey with their bill and swallow. They beat the daylights out of it by pounding it repeatedly against the branch they fly to after they’ve caught something. Kingfishers will do this with their head turned sideways, and even upside down, as pictured in the photo inset. The frog in this photograph was not only stunned, it was beaten to a pulp by the time the kingfisher swallowed it. (Photo: male Belted Kingfisher with Wood Frog)

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12 responses

  1. Sue Wetmore

    Great photos of the kingfisher. It is one of the most difficult birds to photograph as it flies off at the slightest hint of a camera!

    April 24, 2019 at 8:35 am

    • Agreed! A lens that goes to 600 mm definitely helps!

      April 24, 2019 at 4:51 pm

  2. Deborah Luquer

    Stunning photography, Mary. And, oh! the kit!

    April 24, 2019 at 9:26 am

  3. Alice Pratt

    Is it just tenderizing the meat, before it swallows it? Breaking the Frog’s bones, for easier digestion?

    April 24, 2019 at 9:31 am

  4. Bill on the hill

    Great shot Mary! I paddled completely around Long Pond ( Marshfield Dam ) in Marshfield in a vain attempt trying to photograph a belted kingfisher only to have it continuously fly from branch to branch & maintaining easily a 100 ft. distance from me & my kayak. Frustration eventually lead to laughter as the Kingfisher clearly won that contest!
    Bill… :~)

    April 24, 2019 at 10:11 am

    • They are amazingly wary, aren’t they? I was out to 600 mm with today’s shot!

      April 24, 2019 at 10:21 am

  5. Kathie Fiveash

    Makes me feel sorry for the froggy!

    April 24, 2019 at 11:51 am

    • Alice Pratt

      The food chain has cruel steps 😥

      April 24, 2019 at 7:14 pm

  6. I watched this same behavior several years ago in Botswana with three different species of Kingfishers—all the same technique!

    April 24, 2019 at 4:59 pm

  7. Poor frog – what a way to go!

    April 24, 2019 at 7:55 pm

  8. Martha Cochran

    Yes, nature is cruel.

    April 25, 2019 at 11:22 am

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