The Belted Kingfisher is the only kingfisher species in the majority of North America. The Green and Ringed Kingfishers have very limited ranges in southern Texas so most Americans won’t see anything but the Belted Kingfisher. What a shame! When we visited the Sunderbans area of India in 2011 we saw six species of kingfisher in the first hour we were on the boat. Wow.
These birds are not easy to get close to as they typically sit where they have an open view and tend to be pretty cautious when humans show up. Many is the time that I’ve seen nothing but the bird’s back end as it flies away to another favored perch. They will perch on a branch above or near water and scout for fish. When they see prey they will dive and catch the fish or prey in their distinctive beak. After they get the catch they fly back up to the perch for a snack. Kingfisher seem to want to make sure that you know they are in the area. Their call is loud and distinctive. “Look at me”, “over here”, “LOOK AT ME”.
Belted Kingfisher are fairly common here in Wenatchee. We walk the river path frequently and it is a rare day when we don’t hear or see a kingfisher. Do I have any contemporary photos of a kingfisher? Nope. It seems that every time I see a kingfisher within distance to photograph it is on a day when I was lazy and left the camera at home. Dianne is nice to me and doesn’t chastise me for leaving the camera behind. Really, she doesn’t have to since I do enough by myself. This photo is a heavy crop of an image taken back in Oregon as the bird perched above Commonwealth Lake Park.
There are a couple of local photographers that I have visited with enough that I presume I can now refer to them as friends. John Barta and his wife Linda are frequent visitors to the Walla Walla Park area where we like to walk. Frank Cone is a prolific local photographer that I see less frequently face-to-face but with whom I communicate on Facebook. Both John and Frank have been posting a number of kingfisher photos lately. I enjoy their work and have a bit of kingfisher-envy. My lesson is that I need to be out there if I am to expect to get a photo. Oh yeah, and it helps to have a camera along… makes it a lot easier to take a photo if you have one.