Beaverton Bird Watch: The Amazing Kingfisher

By Anne Harris05 Kingfisher and Prey

I collect kingfisher figurines, but had never seen a real one until the lull between the two recent snow storms.

While walking the dog near Murray Hill Pond, I saw a pigeon-sized, dark-and-light-banded bird sporting a 3-inch bill seen heretofore (by me) only on flickers who, it turns out, are sub-family members. It was a belted kingfisher, a water bird known for tunneling nests into muddy banks.

When these dive-bombers spy an unlucky fish or frog in the water below, they assume a torpedo-like profile, snatch dinner from an alternate world with exquisite precision, and return to their perches where they bash the creatures’ brains out against the nearest branch before swallowing them whole.

Ah, the intertwined beauty and cruelty of Nature. The kingfisher’s scientific name, Megaceryle alcyon, derives from the Greek goddess Halcyon who lost her life for impersonating the über goddess Hera. Taking pity, other gods turned her into a bird and granted her one week of “Halcyon Days” each before and after the Winter Solstice when no storms would blow.

Interestingly, the heavy snow that deluged the area on December 14th ended the next day, as if ordained, exactly one week before Winter Solstice, 2016, on the 21st.

Watch this amazing bird online:

Amazing Slo-Mo Diving: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YRM0sy3xIY

Watch This To See The Bashing Part! www.youtube.com/watch?v=OALabez_Zbk

From The Prey’s Point Of View: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQVEdXN_Mnk

Anne Harris is a local author who finds watching her avian neighbors quite fascinating as they loudly inhabit a mixed stand of conifers and broadleaf trees behind her home. “Provide food and they will come,” is what she discovered, and has been avidly studying their diverse habits ever since.