Monday, November 24, 2014

Belted Kingfisher Prey

This is the kingfisher shot I am most proud of having captured. I was surprised this female landed so close to where I was standing. She caught a juvenile blue crab. Some birds like the double-crested cormorant, for instance, swallow their catch alive. I can't imagine how that must feel, kicking all the way down.

Kingfishers, though, beat their catch on something hard to either stun it so they can swallow it or kill it outright. She beat the crab against the branch before she ate it.

Here is a comical picture of another kingfisher beating a minnow into submission on a dock piling. Okay, maybe it wasn't comical for the minnow, but we all have to eat.

The dock where I film is also a favored overnight roost of a kingfisher and, when I arrive at dawn, it often flies off protesting as it goes. This image might be a little much for some, but it reveals a couple of things I wanted to make points about. First, from the white "spots" you can tell it spends a lot of time on that dock. The photo is actually a picture of the bench on the dock. Secondly, it shows a number of pellets. The spots (and you could only know this if you saw the entire bench) indicate the kingfisher faces the shoreline where it is more likely to see minnows.

I'm not sure how many birds have the ability to do this, but kingfishers can regurgitate the undigested remains of their food in the form of a pellet. (Owls also do this and it is a good way to discover where one spends a lot of time by finding pellets beneath trees.) The pellets represent the part of the prey that can neither be digested nor continue to pass through the digestive tract. As you can see here, the pellet consists of both fish bones and scales. I knew owls regurgitated pellets, but I discovered this fact about kingfishers on my own after seeing these numerous times.

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