Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon
Belted Kingfishers are fairly common throughout the county from September through April, but almost completely disappear in May through mid-July. During those months when they are abundant, you can find them at the ponds at Hanna Park, Reddie Point Preserve, and the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. They are also easy to find all over Black Hammock Island, Cedar Point Preserve (boat ramp area), Huguenot Memorial Park, and on powerlines all up and down A1A from I-295/beltway to Nassau Sound.
Three extremely reliable places for them are on the way to Huguenot Memorial Park – in winter, there is usually at least one between the convenience store on Heckscher Drive and Brown’s Creek fish camp, another just path Ramoth Drive before you get to White Shell Bay fish camp, and as you pull into Huguenot there is invariably one on the powerlines near the pay station.
The species is a rare and localized breeder dating back to at least 1933-35, when Grimes found them to be nesting along a bluff on the St. Johns River. Indeed, four eggs were noted in the nest on 22 April 1934 (Stevenson & Anderson, 1994). Today, I don’t know of any confirmed breeding records or observed nests, but they are occasionally reported in the summer months, indicating they may still breed in the area.
I’ve always found Kingfishers to be a great species to observe in terms of behavior, and who doesn’t like that big, shaggy head on the little body? I have found them notoriously frustrating to try to photograph and haven’t been able to get a good picture of one yet.
Updated 16 June 2020. Photo by Kevin Dailey.