Ringed Kingfisher

Megaceryle torquata
Range Map

Not as common as the familiar Belted Kingfisher, the Ringed Kingfisher is the largest member of the kingfisher family in the Western Hemisphere. We only find them north of the Mexican border in south Texas. I met them several times during my time in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, but only at the Sabal Palm Sanctuary in Brownsville was I able to get a photo.

Unlike the Belted Kingfisher, who poses briefly as they look for foraging opportunities, the Ringed Kingfisher may remain perched for hours at a time, waiting for an opportunity to capture a fishy meal.

The range for this species includes nearly all of South America, Central America, much of Mexico, and southmost Texas. Within this range, today’s science recognises only three subspecies:

  • M. t. torquatus is resident from south Texas and south through Mexico, Central America and South America to northern Argentina.
  • M. t. stictipennis lives in the Caribbean on the Lesser Antilles Islands.
  • M. t. stellata lives at the southern end of South America.

In August 2022, I returned to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and I stayed through most of September. It was my good fortune to get invited by good friends at the National Butterfly Center in Mission (Texas) to ride their boat up nine miles of the Rio Grande, where the border wall ends. We saw all three kingfishers on our afternoon jaunt, including the Ringed Kingfisher.

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