A winged king of Johnson Creek
A species of bird known for being flighty paused long enough for a local photographer to snap some photos while the feathered model enjoyed a seafood lunch.
Gresham wildlife photographer Carol Zyvatkauskas took pictures of a juvenile belted kingfisher, which mate and fish in East Multnomah County before heading south for the winter. This kingfisher likely only paused long enough for the photos because of the tasty crawdad it was eating and because its youthfulness made it more trusting.
Belted kingfishers live across North America and Central America, migrating south in the winter. They are known for large heads, shaggy crests, long, heavy bills and a grey base coloring. The birds are stocky, medium-sized and grow to be about a foot tall and nearly two-foot wingspan. The belted kingfisher also shows reverse sexual dimorphism, which means the females are more brightly colored than the males.
True to their name, the birds are skilled fishers. Often they perch prominently on trees, posts or other "watchpoints" close to water before plunging their heads below the surface to catch prey. They love small fish, amphibians, small crustaceans, insects, small mammals and reptiles.
The birds nest in horizontal tunnels made in the river banks, in Gresham likely along Johnson Creek. They slope upward in case of flooding, so the chicks have a pocket of air.
They can be tough to spot in Gresham. More likely you will hear them as they do flyovers. They have a distinctive, repetitive call that sounds like a fast spinning and somewhat loose, roulette wheel.
Zyvatkauskas took the photos of the belted kingfisher as it was perched on an old drainage pipe sticking out of the bank of Johnson Creek near a city of Gresham nature restoration site.
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