Pied Detective


Pied kingfishers, while not as sexually dimorphic as the butterfly I posted day before yesterday, are nevertheless distinugishable. While the color scheme – done in the creative shades of black, black, white, and white – does not offer any clue, looking at their chests is the vital key. Males have an unbroken double black band covering their manly breast, whereas females – as you can see above – are unbroken.

We spotted this kingfisher in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka. It was my mother’s goal: after seeing its picture in the bird guides provided, she had set her heart on it. While I had seen one previously in Kenya, it had been a brief sighting. The boatman was fairly confident he could find it. I was skeptical. Every time we asked where it was, he said, “Just around the corner! Behind, behind!”

We smiled and nodded. Of course. How could we have been so stupid.

Finally, ‘just around the corner’ arrived and there was no kingfisher. We made a pass along the bank, and were just turning away when a black-and-white chattering object flew out of a small dip in the bushes. We all groaned and cursed ourselves: how could we have been so stupid, we asked. How.

It had settled itself neatly on a branch. Quite fine, only the branch was almost three quarters of a kilometer away. We started to paddle away, disappointed.

And then it came back.

Birds always surprise.


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