Most active in the early morning, late afternoon and early evening, this sit-and-wait predator largely hunts from an exposed perch on a tree, pylon or even a pier, which offers clear views over its feeding territory (2) (3). The belted kingfisher is a proficient hunter of fish, and once its prey is sighted, it will hover briefly, up to 15 metres above the water’s surface, before diving vertically into the water, spreading its wings to break its fall. The belted kingfisher catches its target in its long beak with a pincer-like movement, before retracting its neck, turning its body and flying up through the water to take to flight (2) (3) (6). Its prey is taken back to the perch and killed or stunned by repeated blows, allowing this kingfisher to swallow the whole fish head first (2) (6). Although it principally eats small fish up to 14 centimetres long, the belted kingfisher will also eat crustaceans, molluscs, insects, amphibians, reptiles, young birds, small mammals and even small berries (2) (3).
Although solitary for most of the year, from around the start of April the male belted kingfisher selects a nest site which the females visit (2) (3). After noisy courtship displays in which the male chases the female while calling loudly, breeding partners pair up (2) (3). To cement the bond between the pair, the male perches beside the female, with both birds performing unusual semi-circle movements along the length of a perch, before the female is fed a fish gift (2) (3). Both birds construct the tunnel nest in the wall of a dirt bank, with the nest slightly sloping upwards to prevent water from entering, and a territory around the nest is fiercely defended from other kingfishers, with any intruders aggressively repelled (2) (4). Between April and July the clutch of 5 to 8 eggs is laid and subsequently incubated by both the male and female for around 22 to 24 days (4). The chicks hatch naked and blind and are intensively cared for by both parents for several days after hatching. After some 27 to 29 days in the nest, the young birds are capable of limited flight and will join the parents in foraging around the territory, although they continue to be fed by the parents for a further 3 weeks, until which time they become fully independent (2) (3).