This is a stocky, medium-sized bird that is 28-35 cm (11- 14 in) long, has a wing span of 48-58cm (19-23 in) and weighs 113 to 178g. The adult female averages slightly larger than the male and is more brightly colored. This species has a large blue head with a shaggy crest, white collar and a large blue band on the breast and white underparts. Its long, heavy bill is black and grey at the base. The back and wings are slate blue , black feather tips with little white dots. Both sexes feature a rufous band on the upper belly.
Habitat and Distribution
This bird’s breeding habitat is near inland bodies of waters or coasts across most of Canada, Alaska and the United States. They migrate from the northern parts of its range to the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, the West Indies and northern South America in winter.
It sits on watchpoints such as trees, posts, close to water before plunging in head first after its fish prey. They also eat amphibians, small crustaceans,mammals, reptiles and insects.
This bird nests in a horizontal tunnel made in a river bank or sand bank and excavated by both parents. The female lays five to eight eggs and both adults incubate the eggs and feed the young.
Calls and Songs