Friday, April 16, 2010

Belted Kingfishers And Kookaburras



The Belted Kingfisher has always been a favorite of mine. They evoke strong, childhood memories. My mother was not a singing kind of woman, but one of the few things she did sing was The Kookaburra Song. It went like this:

"Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
"Jolly jolly king of the bush is he!"
"Laugh Kookaburra, laugh kookaburra,
"Gay your life must be!"

We always sang along. Frequently, my father would butt in with his own song and he and my mother would sing together. They would sing:

"Oh, she beat him with a shingle,
"till she made his panties tingle!"
"Then he ran down the lane,
"with his panties full of pain,
"Oh a boy's best friend is his mother!"


(This triptych shows a Belted Kingfisher hitting the water then hauling itself upward and out with its catch.)
................................................................................................................................................................

But, that's a story for another day. Back to the Belted Kingfishers - Kingfishers, often called just "Fisher" around here, are related to the Kookaburra. Kingfishers live across the United States from Maine to Alaska and Canada while the Kookaburra, or "Australian Jackass",  lives in Australia. Though they are both Kingfishers, the Kookaburra doesn't eat much fish nor does it hang out near water. They live in more arid areas or humid forests and eat snakes and mice. Our Kingfisher will eat small animals, but it's preferred diet is fish and amphibians. Look out little froggies when you hear the rattling call of the Kingfisher. Kingfishers sit on look out posts in trees, utility lines and poles waiting to dive bomb the water for a catch. They chatter in a loud rattle while they wait to strike. The Kookaburra has an even louder call. I think one of the reasons I like Kingfishers so much is that they remind me of the old Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller. If you listen to the Kookaburra call, you'll recognize the background sounds of Tarzan movies. Interestingly, Kookaburras don't live in Africa where Tarzan and Jane and Boy did. That was a Hollywood fictionalization of jungle sounds, but it stuck with me. Our Kingfishers are migratory because they need open water to fish. When they come back in the spring, I hear a distant memory of my mother singing and Tarzan in the jungle.

I got this video on Youtube. I've never been to Australia, nor the Cincinnati zoo. If you'd like more information on Kookaburras, click this link:
Kookaburra
Posted by Picasa

27 comments:

  1. You must have fast reflexes. I have tried to photograph a Belted Kingfisher during the plunge into the water, but so far have managed only to get photos while it's hovering. Nice photos. Amazing soundtrack of the kookaburra!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have been to Australia and heard these little rascals. I never connected them to the old Tarzan movies. Thanks for the trivia.

    Don

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ya just never know when you might need to know some tid bit like that, eh?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you, Hilke. Patients is the key. I watch them and have the camera all ready to go the second they start for the water. AND- I take a ton of lousy, useless shots!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank goodness for digital, eh? :) Great shots Robin!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh Ya, God bless digital is right!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love the diddy and the photos Robin!

    Digital is king! Many times I go out on a shoot and end up with two - 8 gig cards filled to the brim with photos and be lucky to have 25 or 30 usable photos.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Robin, Love the picture of the Kingfisher often I do see them sitting on the wires by a little local pond. Always a fascinating site to see. I also have childhood memories of singing "The Kookaburra Song" at summer camps around the fire. Great pictures and post.

    Hint:I think it would be easier on people if you gave them a place to click on the link like you use to have,rather than cut and pasting onto an url. Just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh cool..excellent action photos you captured! hee hee the Kookaburra video is cool

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow! This was like hitting the jackpot! Wonderful Wonderful!I saw a fisher here once, running down the swale behind our house toward where the woodcock had been buzzing. I never heard that woodcock again and he had come every year for many years. (I have a new one now though.) It is absolutely amazing that you got those photos! You have developed observing to a fine art--the patience to stand still, to make a blind out of your car door, etc. I loved hearing the noise they make. I wonder if you hear the porcupines' noises. They are incredible too--I always describe them as like those of a child being tortured. They are so awfully whiny and peculiar. One brought my recently arrived neighbors down to the house in their night clothes in great alarm. I showed them the porcupine up in the apple tree screaming with his orange teeth ablaze. Thank you, once again, for some wonderful photos. Loved the kingfisher and all the little newly arrived birds. Love,Jo

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great shots of the kingfisher. I see them all the time while kayaking but they never let me get close enough for a decent photo.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks, John. They are very wary in my experience, too. It takes loads of patients sitting and waiting, waiting, waiting. I envy your Tufted Titmouse shot!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Just returned from St. Thomas and I have to admit the island is lacking with creatures other than tourists...few birds, saw 3 butterflies, 4 iguana, some fish along the coral reefs but missing the natural chirping of birds. Thanks for this MOST delightful Kookaburra video. It really has big lungs for a little bird!
    HG

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think that's really sad that there isn't more wildlife to see in St. Thomas. I would be very bummed out about that if I had gone there.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love your blog... and the video on the kookaburras reminded me of some of my friends. Just loved that!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love Kingfishers, and after stalking them for a few years, one can appreciate how difficult they are to photograph. Great shots!
    B.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great action shots Robin. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Excellent action shots catching the fish.
    I have enough trouble trying to get a distant shot of our Kingfishers lol

    ReplyDelete
  19. Holdingmoments, thanks for this. It is hard to get action shots of wildlife of any kind doing anything. If we could only get them to stand on a mark, pose for the light and repeat as needed, we'd be all set! But then, it probably wouldn't be as much fun.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks Gary and Boom. As you know though, I'll just have to try again for more betterer shots. It's a sicknesss.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Good lord. It is my unfulfilled quest to get a reasonable picture of the kingfishers that hunt the river behind my home. Maybe this summer. That is what makes your fine captures so enthralling to me. I did not know of there relationship to the kookaburra. That's surprising.
    What's really surprising is the second movie, Tarzan and his mate, and the nude swim scene featuring a very lovely Jane! You've gotta love pre-Hayes code Hollywood!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Right on, broth'ah! Thank you Springman. And, yes, this summer I'll be stalking them at the same spot formore betterer photos. it's such a sickness.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi there - thanks for having a look at my WBW post. Can remember seeing Belted K'fishers on a trip to the USA - splendid birds.

    Keep an eye on my posts over the next couple of weeks for more on the worlds largest kingfisher!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Australia

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Stewart and thank you! I'll be waiting for those shots, too. Awesome and I envy you that, too.

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a lovely bird -- wonderful series!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. They are a fabulous bird to try to capture in action, Pat. Thank you very much for the view, read and comment.

    ReplyDelete