Oct 12 2010
If you’re near a stream or lake in western Pennsylvania you might conclude there are more belted kingfishers than every before — and you’d be right.
Kingfishers are migrating now across North America. They breed as far north as Alaska and Hudson Bay but the northernmost birds move south in autumn because they require open water to fish.
The influx of “new” kingfishers upsets their established boundaries. They’re normally solitary birds except when breeding and will defend their favorite fishing hole against other kingfishers, even in the winter. Defense consists of relentless chasing while shouting out the “rattle” call. Perhaps they make new territories while on migration. Perhaps they’re just ornery.
There are certainly a lot of them here right now. I’ve seen them at Schenley Park, along the Ohio, at Montour Run, and at Keystone State Park.
Kingfishers are on the move.
(photo by Chuck Tague)