IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Comprehensive Description

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The Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata, formerly Ceryle torquata) is the largest Kingfisher in the Americas (Henderson 2010). They can grow up to 41 cm and weigh up to 290g (Stiles and Skutch 1989). This species is sexually dimorphic in coloration. Males have a slate grey coloration above, a rufous breast, and a white collar in between (Fogden 2005). Additionally, they have white spots in front of and behind the eyes (Stiles and Skutch 1989). They also have a bushy crest that is finely streaked with black and wing and tail feathers that are black, spotted and barred with white, and broadly edged with blue and grey (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Females look similar, however the grey extends to the top of the breast and is separated from the rufous breast by a second white band (Fogden 2005). Juveniles resemble females but the breast is paler and the white band on the chest is indistinct or absent (Brush 2009).

Ringed Kingfishers are found up to 900m in elevation from Southern Texas to Tierra del Fuego and in the Lower Antilles (Stiles and Skutch 1989). The Ringed Kingfisher has a large range, the population is large and increasing, so the species is considered of Least Concern by BirdLife International (2013).

These kingfishers hunt in both fresh and salt water along rivers, lakes and estuaries (Fogden 2005). The North American populations are non-migratory (Brush 2009). They dive from higher perches than many other kingfisher species and return immediately to their perch after catching prey (Fogden 2005). Unlike other kingfisher species, the Ringed Kingfisher does not hover over the water while hunting (Henderson 2010). They feed almost exclusively on fish, but occasionally eat crabs and other crustaceans (Brush 2009).

They make burrows in banks with an unlined chamber at the end (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Both sexes participate in constructing the nest (Brush 2009). The horizontal tunnel is 15 centimeters (6 inches) high, 10 centimeters (4 inches) wide, and 1.2 to 1.8 meters (6 to 8 feet) deep (Henderson 2010). In Costa Rica, Ringed Kingfishers nest from January to March (Henderson 2010). Females lay 3 to 5 eggs per season (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Chicks are feathered after 24 days and leave the nest 35-38 days after hatching (Brush 2009). They are solitary except while breeding; both males and females defend the territory during the breeding season (Brush 2009).

Ringed Kingfishers are very vocal. They utter a loud “klek-klek-klek” rattling alarm call when disturbed (Henderson 2010). A single, loud “klek” is used as contact call; pair members alternate low calls while raising and lowering the tail (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

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