This female Belted Kingfisher continues to taunt me.
1/4000, f/7.1, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in
She appears regularly at a local pond near my home but great photos of her continue to elude me. She allows me close but her favorite fishing perch is high in a tree and cluttered with branches. And on those occasions when she successfully dives on a fish she always hauls it across the pond to a faraway tree before knocking it senseless on a branch and then gulping it down.
This composition includes lots of blurry branches on the right so I…
1/4000, f/6.3, ISO 320, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in
actually prefer a vertical crop that gets rid of most of them.
In sexually dimorphic bird species males are nearly always more colorful than females. In the few exceptions to that rule there’s a reversal of sex roles where the males tend to the nest instead of the females – phalaropes are one example of that. But in sexually dimorphic Belted Kingfishers the bright rusty-red belt across the lower breast of the female makes her more colorful than the male who lacks it but there’s no sex role reversal. What’s going on?
It may be explained in combination with yet another quirky trait of the species. Belted Kingfishers are highly territorial and the males often (though not always) remain on their territories year-round so they don’t give up prime nesting territory and have to compete for it again in the spring. The females, on the other hand, migrate south for the winter.
So one theory suggests the female is more colorful as a visual signal to a resident male that he should welcome a returning kingfisher with a rusty-red belt in the spring instead of chasing her off. But researchers admit they don’t know that for sure and suggest further research is needed.
Whatever the explanation “my” female will likely be gone soon so I’ll probably be making many more trips down the hill to the pond before she departs.
Note: I should make it clear that female kingfishers in regions that are less cold often don’t migrate.