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  • Writer's pictureJ. Darris Mitchell

Belted Kingfisher

Bird of the Week: 3/05/2023

Belted Kingfisher

My favorite bird is, and pretty much always has been, the belted kingfisher. The reasons are multitudinous. Its feathers are rich blue and a richer orange. It has a big chonky bill that. It hunts by putting the sun to its back and dropping at unsuspecting fish below. It has a loud, rattly call that can be heard up and down rivers and near lakes all over America. But really, it’s my favorite bird because I didn’t know it existed until I became a birder.

I knew about kingfishers, but I thought they were birds of the amazon rainforest, or perhaps the jungles of India. I didn’t know that there was one all over North America, and three in Texas! When I discovered that this fantastic looking bird was not some exotic creature only to be seen on a television after some intrepid explorer shot it through a telephoto lens, it completely changed my perspective on what was going on in my own backyard.

And now one lives across the street.

I hear it almost every day now. It showed up on February 19th and I’ve seen or heard it regularly since. It hangs around in a pond that lies across the street from my house, on the walk that I take every day to pick up Leo from school. Sometimes I see it hanging out on a low branch of a cypress tree in the afternoon, but more often I hear it calling in the morning as I fix my coffee or step outside to try and guess what the weather of the day will be like.

It still feels magical, every time I see it hear it, all the more so because of the pond’s proximity to a busy road. I find inspiration in the creatures that tenaciously cling to territories that humans have changed so much. The pond that it frequents is one hundred percent artificial, and the trees planted on its edges were not volunteers, but part of someone’s master plan for the community, but they are natives to central Texas, and thus the kingfisher doesn’t care.

I think there’s a lesson to be learned there, one that these creatures are willing to provide day after day, if we’re willing to listen. So plant some native plants to your area, and watch as over the years, more and more birds and insects find them, and bring back the ecosystems that sometimes seem gone, but are really just hiding in plain sight.

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1 Comment

Erik Sauder
Erik Sauder
Mar 10, 2023

And it's the 2023 ABA bird of the year! I also was shocked to find out kingfishers were a thing I could see in suburban Houston.


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