|Belted Kingfisher - a male lacking the rufous belly-band|
My favorite sighting of a Belted Kingfisher occurred while on a jet-boat tour in Hell's Canyon where the Snake River creates the border between Idaho and Oregon/Washington. We were heading south from Lewiston/Clarkston one cool crisp morning and a Belted Kingfisher flew alongside the bow of the boat. There it remained just a few feet away from my smiling face for at least a full minute. Now a full minute of up-close observation in birding-time is equivalent to hours in normal human time. It was so cool to see its blue coloration and in-flight wing pattern. It's already over-sized noggin seemed all the bigger up close. Actually the whole bird seemed bigger.
Belted Kingfishers are notoriously difficult to photography as they burst off their perch with their rattling cry as soon as a 150mm lens gets within visibility. Knowing where one of them burrowed this last year, I plan to set up a blind in the Spring near a favorite perch overhanging the river. I was fortunate to get these in-flight photos recently and made another composite image just for fun. I was hiding in the shadow of a large wild bush and it perched for a split second on a nearby tree and I got the posed photo above by shooting as many frames per second as I could before it bolted. I also hope to one day get pictures of it diving for a minnow and emerging from the water.
Based on eBird sightings maps, it appears that some Belted Kingfishers are seasonal migrants. I'd want to clear out of the northern Midwest during winter too. My personal experience in Idaho and Utah are that they seem to be year-round residents. Interesting how the map shows they are few and far between in the American Southwest during June and July, but that could just be that its so stinkin' hot there that birders aren't out recording their presence.