By Bob Dyer, April 2017, Chapter 2 of Bob’s Birds
Female Kingfisher with orange belt.
The Belted Kingfisher is the only kingfisher seen in California. It is 13″ long and weighs 5 oz. It has a rattling call you often hear before you see it. Like the Common Gallinule, the Belted Kingfisher has left Shollenberger, because its favorite place to search for food was the right freshwater channel. It caught mosquito fish, and (if lucky) crawdad. My last photo is from 2011, and that is about when the fertilizer-filled runoff first entered the side channels from a tunnel under the entrance road, and started its problems, including fish-killing dry periods.
Kingfishers are fun to watch, they plunge headfirst into water, after hovering above their targets. Since Ellis Creek opened its trails in mid-2009, the bird can sometimes be seen there. One or two are seen during most Ellis Creek bird surveys.
It prefers a one-dive approach, but will hover if required. The first three photos were taken late last year. Here the kingfisher is diving down into Pond B at Ellis Creek. The fourth is a decade old, in a tree above the right channel at Shollenberger.