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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Kingfisher: The Belted Kingfisher

A digital exhibit and guide

Introduction

The belted kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon (Linn.), is the only species in the family Alcedinidae or the order Coraciiformes found in Illinois.  Illinois is home to breeding populations, and kingfishers can be seen here year around. The consideration of the belted kIngfisher as the mascot for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers an opportunity for Funk ACES Library to highlight resources where you can find information about this magnificent Illinois bird and its relatives. 

We invite you to reach out to us at Funk if you need help finding information on the biology and natural history of kingfishers or any other species!

Images from Biodiversity Heritage Library

Color illustration of a belted kingfisher with a fish in its beak

From The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands : Containing the Figures of Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, Insects, and Plants... London : Printed at the expence of the author,1729-1747.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Smithsonian Libraries.

Color engraving of a belted kingfisher perched on a stick with a fish

From A Natural History of Birds : Most of Which Have Not Been Figur'd or Describ'd, and Others Very Little Known from Obscure or Too Brief Descriptions without Figures, or from Figures Very Ill Design'd. London : Printed for the author at the College of Physicians in Warwick-Lane, [1743-1751] 

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the Smithsonian Libraries.

Color illustration of a belted kingfisher perched on a stick with a fish

From Recueil de divers oiseaux étrangers et peu communs (t. 4-5), Nuremberg : Chez les Héritiers de Seligmann,1768-1776.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Smithsonian Libraries.

Audubon's illustration of 3 belted kingfishers, 2 males (one in flight) and 1 female emerging from a stump with a fish in her mouth

Lithograph from John James Audubon's Birds of America vol. 4, New York : J.B. Chevalier, 1842.  

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Smithsonian Libraries. 

black and white illustration (engraving?) of 3 belted kingfishers, 2 males (one in flight) and a female with a fish in its beak.

From Illustrated natural history of the animal kingdom, being a systematic and popular description of the habits, structure, and classification of animals from the highest to the lowest forms, with their relations to agriculture, commerce, manufactures, and the arts, New York, Derby & Jackson,1861, [c1859]. 

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

From A monograph of the Alcedinidae : or, family of kingfishers.  London : Published by the author,1868-71.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Ernst Mayr Library.

black and white illustration of a female belted kingfisher perched on a branch

From Key to North American Birds. Salem,1872. 

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

From American ornithology; or, The natural history of the birds of the United States. London : Cassell, Petter & Galpin [187-]

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Smithsonian Libraries.

page image including text and a black and white illustration of a male belted kingfisher.

From A History of British Birds, vol. 2. London : John van Voorst, 1876-1882.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

color illustration of kingfishers, two perched, one holding a fish, and a third in flight in the background; landscape includes a stream and steep sandy banks.

From Nests and eggs of birds of the United States. Philadelphia,J.A. Wagenseller,1882.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Smithsonian Libraries.

Color illustration of three belted kingfishers, two males (one flying) and one female emerging from the opening in the top of a hollow tree trunk.

From Report on the birds of Pennsylvania. With special reference to the food-habits, based on over three thousand stomach examinations, Harrisburg,E.K. Meyers, State Printer,1888. 

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Smithsonian Libraries

black and white photograph of a taxidermied specimen of a belted kingfisher, perched on a stand

From, Our Common Birds and How to Know them.  New York : C. Scribner,1895, c1891.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Page introducing family Alcinidae, with text and a black and white illustration of a belted kingfisher

From The Birds of Eastern North America Known to Occur East of the Ninetieth Meridian (part 2).  Chicago : Printed for the Field Columbian Museum [by A. Mudge],1899. 

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Color illustration of a male kingfisher

From Bird-Life : a Guide to the Study of Our Common Birds. New York : Appleton,1900.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the American Museum of Natural History Library.

Belted kingfisher perched on a branch

From The Second Book of Birds; Bird Families.  Boston : Houghton Mifflin,1901. 

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Smithsonian Libraries.

color illustration of a clapper rail running in the foreground, with two belted kingfishers perched on driftwood in the background

From Studer, Jacob Henry.  The Birds of North America : One Hundred and Nineteen Artistic Colored Plates Representing the Different Species and Varieties Drawn and Colored from Nature.  New York : Published under the auspices of the Natural Science Association of America,1903.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Smithsonian Libraries. 

Two birds, a male and female belted kingfisher perched on a branch over water

From Gray lady and the birds; stories of the bird year for home and school. New York,The Macmillan company,1907. 

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Smithsonian Libraries.

two black and white photographs, one of 6 juvenile kingfishers on a branch, and one of a lone kingfisher on a branch

From Birds Every Child Should Know. New York :Doubleday, Page & Co.,1908, c1907.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

page image for family treatment of Alcedinidae, with text and black and white illustration of a male kingfisher perched on a branch over a stream in a forest

From The Birds of Illinois and Wisconsin, Field Museum Publication, Zoological Series no. 9, Chicago,1909.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

color illustration of a female belted kingfisher perched on a branch, with a male flying over water in the background

From Bird Guide, part 2 : Land Birds East of the Rockies, from Parrots to Bluebirds, Worcester, Mass. : Chas. K. Reed,1912.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

From Nature Neighbors, vol. 3.  Chicago : American Audobon Association [c1914].

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

color illustration of birds; top part is pair of belted kingfishers perched together on a branch, male in front, female behind; bottom part is a black-billed cuckoo and a yellow-billed cuckoo.

From Birds of New York, pt. 2.  Albany : University of the State of New York, 1914.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University of Toronto - Gerstein Science Information Center.

image of page from book, text and black and white photograph of 6 kingfisher chicks on a branch

From Birds of New York, pt. 2.  Albany : University of the State of New York, 1914.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the Internet Archive.

page image featuring a black and white illustration of a belted kingfisher male perched on a twig. Page also has text.

From Further Observations on Minnesota Birds: Their Economic Relations to the Agriculturalist, Minnesota State Entomologist Circular no. 35. St. Anthony Park, Minn. : Office of the State Entomologist, 1916.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Black and white photograph of a belted kingfisher perched on a branch swallowing a fish

From The Human Side of Birds.  New York : Frederick A. Stokes company, 1917.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the American Museum of Natural History.

Color illustration of a wading great blue heron, a spotted sandpiper on a log with its reflection in the water, and a belted kingfisher male perched on a branch above the other two birds

From The Burgess Bird Book for Children, Boston :Little, Brown, and company,1919.

Digiitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by University of California Libraries.

black and white line drawing of a kingfisher perched on a branch

From Our Southern Birds. Chattanooga, Tenn.National book company[c1919].

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the Library of Congress

Belted kingfisher, two birds on branches near water, one holds a fish in its beack.

From, Little Friends in Feathers, New York : Barse & Hopkins [c1921]. 

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the Library of Congress. 

black and white illustration of a belted kingfisher

From Field Book of Wild Birds and Their Music; a Description of the Character and Music of Birds, Intended to Assist in the Identification of Species Common in the United States East of the Rocky Mountains, New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons[ c1921]. 

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Smithsonian Libraries

two images, color illustrations; top is of black billed and yellow billed cuckoo perched on small twigs with foliage; bottom is of kingfishers, male perched on branch, female diving into water

From Birds of Eastern Canada.  Ottawa : Acland,1922.
Altnerate version, in the French language edition, is here.

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Male and female belted kingfisher on a branch, illustration by Bruce Horsfall

From Birds of the Pacific Coast, Including a Brief Account of the Distribution and Habitat of One Hundred and Eighteen Birds that are More or Less Common to the Pacific Coast States and British Columbia, Many of Which are Found Eastward to the Rocky Mountains and Beyond New York : G. P. Putnam's sons,1923. 

Digtized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by the American Museum of Natural History

black and white photograph of two kingfisher nestlings on the ground.

From Smithsonian Scientific Series, vol. 9 (1931).

Digitized for the Biodiversity Heritage Library by Smithsonian Libraries.

 

Biodiversity Heritage Library logo

Images from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), presented in chronological order by publication date.  Click images to visit the BHL page where they appear and to learn more about the works in which they were published.  You may notice similarities or even exact replication of images from different works. Works and images are in the public domain unless otherwise specified. For more info about the BHL, please visit Introduction to the Biodiversity Heritage Library

 

Species accounts and more

Taxonomy and Classification

Historic accounts

Illinois Data

Search the literature

Kingfisher Poll

Why are belted kingfishers awesome?
Naturally true to the orange & blue!: 1 votes (4.76%)
Fierce rattles and calls!: 0 votes (0%)
Ruthless predators!: 1 votes (4.76%)
Fast in flight!: 1 votes (4.76%)
Clever escape artists!: 0 votes (0%)
Extraordinary nest builders--by aerial ramming!: 0 votes (0%)
They live in Illinois, 'by thy rivers gently flowing': 3 votes (14.29%)
All of the above: 15 votes (71.43%)
Total Votes: 21

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