Photo: Glenn Bartley/Vireo

Ringed Kingfisher

Megaceryle torquata

Conservation status Has gradually increased and spread in Texas since the 1960s. Widespread and common in the American tropics.
Family Kingfishers
Habitat Rivers, large streams, ponds; nests in banks. In Texas, most common along Rio Grande in areas where tall trees and brush border the river; also, increasingly, on ponds, streams elsewhere in southern part of state. In the tropics, found around almost any body of fresh water in lowlands, also in mangrove swamps on coast.
Common in the American tropics, the Ringed Kingfisher was considered rare north of Mexico until the 1960s. It is now found commonly along the lower Rio Grande, and locally elsewhere in southern Texas. Larger than our familiar Belted Kingfisher, the Ringed usually hunts from higher perches and takes bigger fish. When going from place to place, it flies high, often following the river, giving a measured tchack...tchack call in flight.
Photo Gallery
Feeding Behavior

Seeks its food mostly by perching high (usually 15-35' up, higher than other kingfishers) and watching the water. When it spots a fish (or other prey) close to the surface, it plunges headfirst, catching the fish in its bill. Seldom hovers over the water before diving.


Eggs

4-5, sometimes 3-6. White. Incubation is by both parents, incubation period not well known. Young: Evidently fed by both parents. Young leave the nest about 5 weeks after hatching, are probably cared for by the adults for some time thereafter.


Young

Evidently fed by both parents. Young leave the nest about 5 weeks after hatching, are probably cared for by the adults for some time thereafter.

Diet

Mostly fish. Feeds mainly on fish, especially those 2-6" long. Also eats some frogs, small snakes, probably other aquatic creatures.


Nesting

In the tropics, sometimes nests in loose colonies where a large dirt bank is especially favorable for nesting. Such sites are not always near water; sometimes in road cuts or other artificial banks more than a mile from water. Apparently nests only as isolated pairs in United States. Nest site is in burrow excavated in steep or vertical dirt bank. Both sexes help to dig burrow, which may be 5-8' long, with an enlarged nest chamber at the end. Little or no nest material added, but debris may accumulate in chamber.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Migration

Apparently a permanent resident throughout its range, but individuals may wander widely.

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Migration

Apparently a permanent resident throughout its range, but individuals may wander widely.

Songs and Calls
Harsh rattle, louder than that of Belted Kingfisher. Also a loud kleck.