Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)


French: Martin-pêcheur d’Amérique German: Gürtelfischer Spanish: Martín gigante norteamericano

Alcedo Alcyon


, 1758,

South Carolina, USA


Forms a species-group with M. lugubris, M. maxima and M. torquata; present species and M. torquata are sister-species#R. Proposed separation of population from W coast as race caurina on basis of larger size is unwarranted, as size is variable across species’ entire range. Monotypic.


Aleutian Is and CW Alaska (Seward Peninsula) E through S Canada to Labrador and Newfoundland, and S throughout USA to S California and S Texas and N coast of Gulf of Mexico. Winter range S to E Panama, Caribbean islands to Trinidad, N Colombia, N Venezuela and N Guyana; also Galapagos Is.

Descriptive notes

28–33 cm; male 113–173 g, female 138–178 g; wingspan 49–57 cm. Adult male bluish-grey head with distinct crest; white frontal spot, very narrow semicircle... read more


Most common call the rattle, a loud, harsh “kekity-kek-kek-kek-tk-ticky-kek”, used in territorial... read more


Mountain streams, rivers, lakes, swamps, tidal creeks, coasts and garden ponds; needs clear, still... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly fish, up to 14 cm long (mean 9 cm); recorded genera include Salvelinus, Cottus, Gasterosteus, ... read more


Lays in Apr–Jun in Louisiana, in Apr–Jul in New York State, in May–Jun in Illinois, Massachusetts and Minnesota, in May... read more


A partial migrant in most of range, with birds moving S in winter to S USA and C America to Panama... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread, and common in some localities. Densities of one bird/160 m of farmland streams in New Brunswick, one pair/km² at L... read more

Recommended citation

Woodall, P.F. (2019). Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 November 2019).