One… Two… Three… Four… Five… Six!

UPDATE: We have some hardy eaters on our hands here, with each belted kingfisher eating about 3 minnows every hour for 11 hours each day! That’s about 200 minnows every day of the week! Please consider making a donation to Wildlife Services to help us care for these young birds, who will likely be in our care for weeks, if not months. Please see the “Donate” button at the top, left-hand side of this page to help… and thank you : )

Six baby belted kingfishers arrived at VINS Wildlife Services this morning. Yesterday, a man was out bulldozing in his yard when he disrupted a cavity nest in which seven of the young birds were nesting. Mom and Dad Kingfisher flew off from the nest and did not return after several hours passed. When one of the original seven babies died, the man knew it was time to call a rehabilitator. So now we have them in our care. All birds seem to be in good health, and are being fed 2-3 minnows every hour.

Kingfishers are found year-round throughout Vermont and much of the United States, and are often heard before they’re seen. They have a tremulous, trilling cry that they sing loud and clear while flying. You can often spot kingfishers above a river or lake, perched on a tree branch or power line, where they get a — well — bird’s-eye-view of the water and the fish moving within it. Once they spot a fish, they plunge into water to grab it with their large beaks.

In our video below, Wildlife Services’ staff Ian and Sara hand-feed minnows to one of the kingfishers.


  1. Anonymous on July 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    How much does each minnow cost VINS? How long will this much feeding go on? Weeks? Months? Will VINS be able to release these birds to the wild once they've grown up, or will they be unreasable because they've imprinted on human feeders during their childhood?

  2. Meghan on July 9, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Dear "Anonymous" — The minnows come frozen in packages, and we're spending about $20 per package. We go through one package of minnows per day, so that's $140 per week.

    We expect the birds will be in our care for 3-4 weeks. They should not become imprinted. Even thought we are hand-feeding them (as we hand-feed all baby birds), they have each other and were initially raised by their parents, so they have imprinted onto their parents. Once they are eating on their own, we will have little contact with them — other than replenishing their food dishes and cleaning their enclosure. Barring any unforseen circumstances, all 6 birds should be releasable back into the wild.

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