Migratory Birds of the Great Lakes University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
 about habitat birds + science 20 birds
aerialist raptors
copyright UW Sea Grant, writer: L. Wiland, design: T. Yao contact us credits

Belted Kingfisher — Water Connection, page 2

• Once it captures a fish, the Belted Kingfisher flies to a perch, often a habitually used dead limb projecting over the water, beats the fish repeatedly against the limb, tosses it up, and swallows it headfirst. The bird periodically ejects small pellets of undigested fish bones and scales.

• Kingfishers catch most fish in shallow water. “With eyes closed,” writes researcher William James Davis, “they grab their prey with a pincerlike action of the bill; to catch a meal their aim must be perfect.” That “perfect” aim, some biologists believe, is enabled by two white “false eyes” in front of the bill. These spots may serve as sighting devices along the line of the bill, allowing the eyes to fix binocular vision on the prey, and also correcting for light refraction at the water’s surface, which makes prey appear to be nearer the surface than they really are.

ML Reeb writer: Laurence Wiland design: T. Yao