The Belted Kingfisher is a winter visitor to the Galapagos, where it travels from North America! It’s not fully understood how the first Belted Kingfishers made their way all the way to Galapagos, but it’s most likely that a small migrating group were blown well off course on migration and were lucky to make landfall here.
The Galapagos is the most southerly recorded migration for the Belted Kingfishers, and so a sighting whilst on the archipelago is noteworthy for most birdwatchers! Although the population in the Galapagos hasn’t been well-studied, it does appear that the birds don’t arrive every winter, although the reason for this isn’t yet known.
If the Kingfishers do pay a visit to the Galapagos they tend to frequent the lagoons on Isabela and San Cristobal Islands, and when they are in residence they are the only kingfisher species on the islands.
The Belted Kingfishers have the typical kingfisher look, with stocky body and a long, heavy bill. The birds are about a foot long, and will most often be seen perched on branches or other suitable lookout points close to the water’s edge where they look for fish close to the surface. Once they spot a likely target, they will be off with a flash of wings and plunge headfirst into the water to catch their prey, which as well as fish also includes small crustaceans and insects.
As a winter visitor, your expert Galapatours guides will be on the lookout for Belted Kingfishers if you visit the islands between October and April and will point them out to you if they are spotted. We hope you’ll be lucky and can add a sighting of this bird in its most southerly recorded winter habitat!
Fast Facts about the Belted Kingfisher
- This is the only species of Kingfisher ever recorded in the Galapagos
- Female Belted Kingfishers are more drab than the males
- Belted Kingfishers head south for winter. Those in Galapagos are the most southerly migrants ever recorded
- Although their diet is primarily fish and small crustaceans, Belted Kingfishers will also take insects, reptiles, and small mammals