Ringed Kingfisher

Megaceryle torquata
Range Map

Ringed Kingfishers are not as common as the familiar Belted Kingfisher. They are 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.

The restless Belted Kingfisher often poses briefly as they look for foraging opportunities. But 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 be invited by friends at the National Butterfly Center in Mission to ride their boat up the Rio Grande. We launched from Chimney Park and cruised nine miles upstream to where the border wall ends. We saw all three North American kingfishers on our afternoon jaunt, including the Ringed Kingfisher.

5 Photos

Click map markers to reveal further information