Oct 12 2010

Kingfishers on the move

Published by at 8:02 am under Migration,Schenley Park,Water and Shore

If you're near a stream or lake in western Pennsylvania you might conclude there are more belted kingfishers than every before -- and you'd be right.

Kingfishers are migrating now across North America.  They breed as far north as Alaska and Hudson Bay but the northernmost birds move south in autumn because they require open water to fish.

The influx of "new" kingfishers upsets their established boundaries.  They're normally solitary birds except when breeding and will defend their favorite fishing hole against other kingfishers, even in the winter.  Defense consists of relentless chasing while shouting out the "rattle" call.  Perhaps they make new territories while on migration.  Perhaps they're just ornery.

There are certainly a lot of them here right now.  I've seen them at Schenley Park, along the Ohio, at Montour Run, and at Keystone State Park.

Kingfishers are on the move.

(photo by Chuck Tague)

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Kingfishers on the move”

  1. Lizon 12 Oct 2010 at 10:07 am

    Saw a migratory pair this morning here in Jacksonville, FL. Lived here on the St. john’s river for 16 years and never saw any before. Very loud and ornery, like you said.

  2. Bird Feederson 12 Oct 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Great photograph! By far one of my favorite birds! Are there more in western Pennsylvania now compared to other times of the year, or are there more in general relative to other years? Does anyone know why there are so many? Growing up in upstate New York I would love to watch these birds fish while canoeing and kayaking, a great way to see them. Thanks for sharing this great article!

  3. Kate St. Johnon 12 Oct 2010 at 2:38 pm

    There are more kingfishers right now relative to a month or two ago.

  4. NDPeteron 13 Oct 2010 at 4:19 pm

    If you don’t mind, where in Schenley have you seen them? Down by the pond in Panther Hollow? The only kingfisher I’ve ever seen is the Micronesian guy at the aviary. He always makes me so sad.

  5. Kate St. Johnon 13 Oct 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I’ve seen one at the pond in Panther Hollow. They come and go because they’re on migration & not staying anywhere for long. I usually hear them before I see them.

  6. Margeon 15 Oct 2010 at 10:07 pm

    They are one of my favorite birds also. I love to hear their rattle and watch them “helicopter’…there is a pair at Crooked Creek that I believe have mated for past few years and where Rearick’s Fording Road meets Creek Road and Iron Bridge Road saw a few “holes” in mud against one edge last summer that kind of looked like “home” for a few that I’ve seen there also. At that spot they often will fly up to cables and rattle. I watched one up at Conneaut Harbor on the deck in that lagoon/cove which had a small fish/minnow in its beak, a tasty treat for a handsome bird!

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