Bird of the Week: Ringed Kingfisher

Ringed Kingfisher

Once excluded from American field guides entirely, the Ringed Kingfisher is now a regular, if rare, visitor to central Texas. Common in Central and South America, the Ringed Kingfisher was not seen north of the Rio Grande until the middle of the last century; since then, its range has moved steadily northward, for reasons that are not well understood. Like its close cousin, the Belted Kingfisher, the Ringed Kingfisher has a large head and massive beak, which it uses to beat its prey—generally small to medium-sized fish. The Ringed Kingfisher can be distinguished from the belted by its larger size and distinctive rusty breast. In the Austin area, they may be seen all year on the shores of the Colorado River and other large bodies of water, frequently perched high in a tree or flying up and down the shore, patrolling their territory, which they protect with a loud, rattling call.

Compiled by Owen Moorhead. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.

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