Alcedo alcyon Linnaeus, 1758, South Carolina. Monotypic.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Martin-pкcheur d’Amйrique; German: Gьtelfischer; Spanish: Martin Gigante Norteamericano.
11–13 in (28–33 cm), 4.0–6.3 oz (113–178 g). Very large, bluegray kingfisher, with white breast and collar. Breast band plain blue-gray (male) or with rufous below (female). Juveniles of both sexes resemble adult female.
Resident across central United States of America and southern Canada, breeding summer migrant almost to Arctic Circle (to about 65°N), non-breeding winter migrant to southern USA and central America, south to Galapagos Islands and Guyana.
Lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and estuaries, from seashore to 8,200 ft (2,500 m) above sea level. Uses mainly mangroves, coasts, and offshore islands during non-breeding season.
Usually perched in large tree overlooking water. Main call a harsh series of rattling notes. Visually sensitive to near-ultraviolet wavelengths, but
al significance unknown.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Aquatic diet, mainly fish, but also crustacea, amphibians, mollusks, and insects. Some fruit taken in winter. Hunts from perch or by hovering about 49 ft (15 m) above water, sometimes 0.6 mi (1 km) out from shore. Rarely submerges, catches most prey within 24 in (60 cm) of surface. Hunts mainly in late morning and afternoon, sometimes following egrets for any prey they disturb.
Monogamous, breeding during northern summer. Both parents excavate nest tunnel in earth bank, within range of but not always close to water. Burrow usually 3.3–6.6 ft (1–2 m) deep with 8–12 in (20–30 cm) diameter cavity at end. Lays five to eight eggs, incubation 22–24 days, nestling period 27–35 days. Sexes share duties of incubation, brooding, and provisioning.
Not threatened. Widespread and common in many areas, more resistant to pollution than most kingfishers. Some local disturbance at nest sites.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Feeds on some fish stocks and so persecuted locally.
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