Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Halcyon Birds

Halcyon birds of Greek Myth are Kingfishers,   Pliny refers to them also, and it is thought these mythical birds were the European Kingfishers.  They are known as birds of peace and calm winds.  They are associated with the period around the Winter Solstice when winds are most calm.

Picture here is the Belted Kingfisher, photographed near the beginning of this month.  I am struck by the size of these birds and their quickness.  This photograph captures one of the most overlooked field marks of this species—a small white patch in front of its eye.  One cannot mistake the rattle of a kingfisher.  Hearing it leads immediately to identification without ever having to see the bird.

The Belted Kingfisher is the only kingfisher found in most of North America.  The Ringed and Green Kingfishers have more restricted ranges.  It has been my experience, whether on the river or by a pond or lake, generally only one solitaire is seen.

The irony of this posting is the last two days have been some of the windiest in a long time.  Gusts have been up to 35 mph and several trees have been felled as a result.  Perhaps, I long for calmer days.

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