A Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) was patrolling some of the un-iced water in Stranahan-Olmsted-Vaux’s park over the long weekend.This is a male. Male birds are typically more colorful than females, but this isn’t the case with this species. M. alcyon females have a rusty band below the blue collar-like markings, the “belt” of their common name.They are fishers of… well, fish, small ones, and also crustaceans, reptiles, amphibians, even berries on occasion. They have a distinctive rattling cry. This one was silent as he flew back and forth over the rather narrow patch of open water. When perched, he did this bobbing movement where, tail cocked, head lifted, he rose up and down. What was this about? They nest in burrows up to six feet long in earthen banks, next to water if possible. Prospect Park lacks the required terrain for nesting, but these birds can be seen during migration. This one in January is unusual: hanging around over the winter is only possible as long as there is open water to fish in: the birds plunge into the water to capture prey. Something I noticed most strongly after the fact, as I reviewed my photos: the white spots before the eyes, giving the bird a “bright-eyed” look indeed, when in fact their actual eyes are quite dark. Why should this be so?
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This work by Matthew Wills is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.