The Kingfisher Is Back!

And this time there’s two of them, though I don’t yet know if either one is my old friend. This one isn’t, for sure.

Readers will remember a female Belted Kingfisher that has made sporadic appearances at a favorite fishing spot near the Jordan River over the past several years. I haven’t seen her or any other kingfisher there for almost six months now and that’s been very disappointing. I’m sure I’ve made at least 100 trips (a short drive from my home of perhaps 3 miles) to that area of the river in that amount of time just to look for her but she’s never been there.

But I keep plugging away and yesterday afternoon I checked once again and lo and behold there “she” was! – in the same tree overlooking her favorite fishing spot. I usually don’t have my photo gear with me on those trips (too much trouble for the extremely unlikely chance she’ll be there) so I rushed home, grabbed my gear, and broke my time record for getting back to the river (never once exceeding the speed limit of course – hah!) in hopes that she’d still be there. She was.


Except it wasn’t her.

Once I got a good look at “her” I could see that it was actually a male. He was extremely skittish and lighting conditions were volatile and usually poor so most of the images I got yesterday were of mediocre quality and taken from far away so don’t expect any great photos in today’s post. But I wanted to document my exciting find and share it with all of you.

Here he’s watching for fish in the water below him.



I caught him in a single dive…



and because I was far away…



I was able to keep him in frame for three images. This time he came up empty.



And the next time he was a little closer when he took off…



so I almost missed him when it happened.

I’m only including this image because of the strange-looking green “film” between the upper and lower portions of his bill. Perhaps it’s only mucosy saliva with green light reflected in it but it’s something I’ve never seen before so it aroused my curiosity.



He only came close once for about two seconds and he was in mediocre light when he did it but the detail and sharpness on those wet feathers in this shot are pretty good.

And to be perfectly honest I don’t know for sure if all of these shots are of the same bird. Just before or just after this photo was taken (can’t remember which) another kingfisher flew in and the two birds had a brief and completely unexpected confrontation before one of them flew off. I don’t even know if the other bird was male or female – it’s possible it was the mate of this male. Hopefully time will tell as I make more trips to the river in the coming days.

Please indulge me for posting these mostly mediocre images. Even though most of us have never actually met I consider many of my readers to be good friends and I wanted to share this exciting news with my friends. Usually I have to drive 50 – 100 miles to get to my birding spots but I adore kingfishers and this sighting opens up convenient and close possibilities for me.

I hope it pans out.




50 comments to The Kingfisher Is Back!

  • Nikonsteve

    You are a friend Ron….and thank you for sharing things like this…I know I’m interested and I sure do appreciate your sharing. I like Kingfishers myself and I think these are great photos!

  • Stephen Clayson


    One man’s mediocre is another man’s “GREAT SHOT!”
    I would be the other man.
    (Ladies, that was not meant to be sexist.)


    • Thanks, Stephen.

      I just now went down to check for the kingfisher. It was there for about 5 minutes but the light is terrible and he (assuming a male) never came in close.

  • Chris Sanborn

    Love the images, Ron. My fave is the “Don King(fisher)” look (w/ a tip of the hat to Marty!). Wonderful little birds, I’ve seen only in Oregon & Alaska! I do hope “your” girl returns … or that she’s taking care of eggs/babies so more to come in the months & years ahead! And good luck to you and docs figuring out and taking care of your nerve pain. Been there and I know it’s no fun.

  • Nicole

    I LOVE kingfishers!!!

  • Woo Hoo. And happy dances.
    Your excitement is almost palpable, and I love these happy images. And that ‘do’.
    Hope the specialists can address that nerve pain. It sucks better than any Dyson.

  • Another terrific series of images, Ron! We have very few kingfishers that are residents year ’round and it’s wonderful to see many migrants staking out fishing spots all winter long. With May headed downhill, most winter visitors are gone and it’s once again rare to spot one of these blue-gray rockets hovering above the water.

    Hope “your” lady makes an appearance for you!

  • Jean Haley

    That’s exciting. Beautiful pictures!

  • Carol

    Love the diving shots! I have never gotten one as he/she was diving so enjoyed these.The contrast of his feathers is elegant!

  • April Olson

    Beautiful bird so happy for you they are back. It is nice to have something enjoyable close to home. I have to admit I don’t like the long drives to Box Elder. I am use to standing most of the day, sitting for 4 to 6 hours in a car bothers my sciatic nerve.

    • I’m having major nerve problems myself, April. At this point I don’t think it’s related to driving or sitting so much but I’ve been seeing specialists to try to get it all figured out. So far no luck but three more appointments now scheduled.

      Between all the driving and computer time I spend a lot of time on my butt so anything’s possible I guess…

  • Susan Stone

    I’m really happy to see Kingfishers again. They are such interesting birds. This guy appears a bit scruffy to me, but maybe it’s just that the dive messed up his “hairdo”. I’m hoping you do get to see the beautiful lady you had photographed before. She is a very special bird.

  • Alice Beckcom

    To me, these are far from mediocre photos. I especially like the photo with the bird wet. It shows the ‘layers’ in the feathers and details.
    As another reader said, I like the spiked hair do, as well.

    I hope that you are able to photo the female soon. I’m sure this is all exciting for you and now for us as well. Thanks, Ron

    • Thanks, Alice. They look a little better at this size and after I’ve processed them. At larger sizes their shortcomings are more obvious.

  • Marty K

    We all know that your gal wouldn’t have come up empty, right? 😉 Maybe her fellas have come on ahead to scope out the neighborhood. 🙂

    The dive shots are particularly interesting — bad light or no — and show off the adaptation of white ventral/dark dorsal “camouflage” really well, especially in 4 and 6.

    • Marty, it’s my suspicion that she’s already on the nest and both of these birds were rivals for the fishing spot. Just a guess though…

  • Mediocre or not, I would love to see the “brief and completely unexpected confrontation.”

    • I’m afraid I have no shots of any quality of that confrontation, Marian. I didn’t even know the other kingfisher was in the area when it appeared out of nowhere and they seemed to squabble for only about a second or two and that was before I could get my lens on either one of them.

  • Laura Culley

    One man’s mediocre is another woman’s spectacular! In MY realm of reality, these shots would NEVER happen so I’m going to add my ridiculously redundant OH WOW! I can’t even get a snapshot of my Brittany puppy nose-to-nose with Lilly the Filly next door for pity’s sake!
    And Judy’s right about the differing voices of individual birds. I used to be able to differentiate “my” nesting screech owls from interlopers, but like Judy said, once the kiddos fledge, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game 🙂

    • Laura, I’m going to pay more attention to those varying voices in the future. Can’t believe that possibility never occurred to me.

  • Barby Anderson

    What a darling little bird! I love the pics and the detailed feathers. He looked all rumpled up and wet in that close up. He has a spiked up hairstyle. 🙂 Thanks Ron!

  • Dick Harlow

    These are great shots Ron. You really caught the dives, can’t wait for you to show entering the water and just coming out of the water with a fish! Just kidding!
    Do you have sand banks near you, or near their fishing hole?
    Do you know where their nest cavity might be?

    • Dick, There’s steep banks along the river in some places but none of them that I know of are particularly close to this spot. So no, I don’t know where the nest cavity might be.

      I actually got two or three shots of this male just after he came out of the water by aiming my lens without looking through my viewfinder, hoping I’d get lucky. The bird was actually completely in the frame in at least two of them but he was so soft he was only a blob.

  • Patty Chadwick

    How great to see one of these birds again, much less two! I hope you (and us) get to see your “queenfisher” again, soon…They move so fast, it’s a real treat to see your “stills”….

  • Jerry Ellison

    Nothing mediocre here…great shots…one of my favorite birds!!

  • Elmer Deloso

    Awesome shots! Considering the size & speed of this bird and how the are terribly shy of humans, I’d say these photos are more challenging than hawks. At least that’s my own experience comparing the two. Thanks for sharing.

  • That is great Ron. Nice images of a bird that I find extremely hard to photograph.

  • Diane Bricmont

    Yay! Can’t wait to see if she comes back! Never apologize for Kingfisher pics- they move so quickly in pursuit of prey that I forget how beautifully marked their tail feathers are until I see them captured in your photos! Thanks again!

  • Yay! Can’t wait to hear more about these two. 🙂

  • Charlotte Norton

    Wow!How Exciting!Great series to! They are so challenging.


  • Judy Gusick

    Cool! 🙂 Always wonderful to see an “old” friend in the same place! We love it when the same pair of GHO come back identified by their voices which I came to realize are slightly different for each owl. The film is a puzzle – I’d say it was his tongue, but don’t really think so. Being able to catch him diving is great – they are a challenge. 🙂

    • I’ve invested so much time and effort in her I almost feel like that female is “mine”, Judy. Illogical, I know…

      I’m pretty sure it isn’t his tongue.

      Interesting that you can recognize those GHO voices as individual birds. I’ve never even thought of that possibility but it does make sense.

    • Judy Gusick

      Yes – each one has a little different cadence/pitch/number of “hoots” in the series. Of course, that only works well until the chicks fledge and then a whole other set of “sounds” come into play! 🙂