Historical information

The Belted Kingfisher is commonly seen near bodies of water or coasts in Canada, Alaska and the United States. During migration periods these birds may stray far from their usual habitat. Interestingly, the female of this species, as is the case for this specimen, is often larger than the male. They are also more brightly coloured. This species feed on amphibians, small crustaceans, insects, small mammals and reptiles. They lie await perched on a tree located close to water and remain there watching until they see their prey. When they have located their prey, the Belted Kingfisher plunges its head into the water and catches its food.

This specimen is part of a collection of almost 200 animal specimens that were originally acquired as skins from various institutions across Australia, including the Australian Museum in Sydney and the National Museum of Victoria (known as Museums Victoria since 1983), as well as individuals such as amateur anthropologist Reynell Eveleigh Johns between 1860-1880. These skins were then mounted by members of the Burke Museum Committee and put-on display in the formal space of the Museum’s original exhibition hall where they continue to be on display. This display of taxidermy mounts initially served to instruct visitors to the Burke Museum of the natural world around them, today it serves as an insight into the collecting habits of the 19th century.


This specimen is part of a significant and rare taxidermy mount collection in the Burke Museum. This collection is scientifically and culturally important for reminding us of how science continues to shape our understanding of the modern world. They demonstrate a capacity to hold evidence of how Australia’s fauna history existed in the past and are potentially important for future environmental research.

This collection continues to be on display in the Museum and has become a key part to interpreting the collecting habits of the 19th century.

Physical description

The Belted Kingfisher stands upon a wooden perch with a light brown paper tag attached to leg. This specimen has pale cream/white and slate grey/blueplumage. The head and back are coloured the blue-grey while the neck and stomach are cream/white. The bird has a black ring around its upper chest. The stomach has a chestnut brown band which identifies this particular specimen as female. The bill is long and pointed and the eyes and legs black. The bird is small and stocky with a large head and a square-tipped tail.

Inscriptions & markings

95.a /
Belted /
Kingfisher /
Catalogue page, 25 /