Ringed Kingfisher

Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata)

The Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata) is a large, conspicuous, and noisy kingfisher, commonly found along the lower Rio Grande River valley in southeasternmost Texas in the United States through Central America to Tierra del Fuego in South America.

The breeding habitat is areas near large bodies of water, usually in heavily wooded areas where it finds a perch to hunt from. It is mostly a sedentary species, remaining in territories all year long.

A Ringed Kingfisher Perched on Tree
A Ringed Kingfisher Perched on Tree

The Megaceryle kingfishers were formerly placed in Ceryle with the Pied Kingfisher, but the latter is genetically closer to the American green kingfishers.

Ringed Kingfisher Description

It is 40-41 cm long, with deep blue or bluish-gray plumage with white markings, a shaggy crest and a broad white collar around the neck. Its most distinguishing characteristic is the entire rufous belly, which also covers the entire breast of the male.

Females are more colorful than the male (i.e., reverse sexual dimorphism) and have a bluish-gray breast and a narrow white stripe separating the breast from the belly.

Ringed Kingfisher Nesting / Breeding

These birds nest in a horizontal tunnel made in a river bank or sand bank. The female lays 3 to 6 eggs.

Both parents excavate the tunnel, incubate the eggs and feed the young.

Ringed Kingfisher Closeup Image
Ringed Kingfisher Closeup Image

Diet / Feeding

It is often seen perched prominently on trees, posts, or other suitable “watchpoints” close to water before plunging in head first after its fish prey.

They also eat small mammals, insects, small reptiles and berries.

Calls / Vocalizations

Their voice is a loud, penetrating rattle given on the wing and when perched.


  • BirdLife International (2004). Megaceryle torquata. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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