We're approaching the bridge that crosses the Gunnison River. Just beyond the bridge is the intersection with Highway 92 that leads to Hotchkiss.
In the past, I've seen a Belted Kingfisher on the power line that crosses the river, but this is winter!
The river looks nearly ice-free and clear, but it is very low. The smaller rocks that were inundated in October are now high and dry. But there, on the wire above the river — Kingfisher? Of course there's traffic and we can't even slow down! Now as we drive past the river, I recall the details of my bird: stout body, huge bill, little tail, dark and white plumage, and it didn't dive. I'm glad to know that! To me, the water is much too shallow!
These birds plunge dive after fish, their primary diet.
They nest throughout our continent and winter as far south as northern South America. Both parents incubate the six or so eggs, and jointly dig a tunnel in a bank, often tending upward (possibly to create an air pocket in case of flooding). The parents teach their young to hunt fish by dropping edible bits into the water.
Names always fascinate me, and the scientific label for our little 5-ounce bird is Ceryle alcyo. Both words relate to a mythical bird that the Greek gods favored. Supposedly, the birds nested at sea and the gods calmed the waves for them. Thus beautiful, calm days were known as "halcyon days." I've heard this term, but I never related it to the Kingfisher!
With most birds, the males are the colorful ones while the females are drab. But occasionally this is reversed. The male (pictured above) is dark blue and white, but the female has a reddish band chest and reddish under the wings.
In a brief check of the Internet, I found that these birds are worldwide with ninety-two species. They vary in color from black and white, blue to electric blue, turquoise, orange, red, green, and multicolored. We have three species: the Ringed Kingfisher at 16 inches and the Green Kingfisher at a mere 9 inches. Both of these occur to our south, so the one that we are most likely to see is the 13-inch Belted Kingfisher. Watch for this little bird on branches overhanging the water.blog comments powered by Disqus