Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/425

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397
BELTED KINGSFISHER.

foot, I felt certain of obtaining it; but before I reached the place next day, it had worked its way out. After this, I abandoned my attempt, although the bird continued to repose in the same hole.

No superstitious notions exist in the United States respecting this species. The flesh is extremely fishy, oily, and disagreeable to the taste. On the contrary, the eggs are fine eating.

I was ready to put my pen aside, kind reader, when, on consulting my journals, all of which are now at hand, I happened to read, that I have seen instances of this bird's plunging into the sea after small fry, at Powles Hook, in the bay opposite to the City of New York. I am not aware that this is a common occurrence.



Alcedo Alcton, Linn. Syst. Nat. vol. i. p. 180.—Lath. Ind. Ornith. vol. i. p. 257—Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 48.

Belted Kingsfisher, Lath. Synops. vol. ii. p. 637—Wils. Amer. Ornith. vol, iii. p. 59, Pl. 23, fig. 1.


Adult Male. Plate LXXVII. Fig. 1, 2.

Bill long, straight, tetragonal, tapering to an acute point, compressed towards the end; upper mandible keeled, with the dorsal line straight, the edges overlapping; lower mandible with the dorsal line slightly convex, the tip ascending; gap-line extending to beneath the eyes. Nostrils basal, dorsal, oblong, oblique, half-closed by a bare membrane. Head large, neck short, body robust. Feet very short; tarsus roundish, anteriorly scutellate, half the length of the middle toe; outer and middle toes nearly equal, inner much shorter, hind toe small; claws rather strong, arched, acute, channelled beneath.

Plumage compact. Feathers of the head long, narrow, rather loose, pointed, and erectile, in the form of a longitudinal crest, of which the anterior feathers are longest. Wings longish, the third primary longest. Tail short, even, of twelve broad rounded feathers.

Bill brownish-black, light greenish-blue at the base. Iris hazel. Feet greyish-blue; claws black. Head, cheeks, hind neck and upper parts, generally light blue, the shaft of each feather blackish. A white spot before the eye, and a slight streak of the same colour on the under eyelid. Quills brownish-black, the base of the primaries barred with white, the secondaries blue on the outer web. Two middle tail-feathers blue, as are the outer edges of the rest, excepting the outermost; all, ex-