Kingfisher Landing With A Fish

This isn’t the exact moment of touchdown but it’s close.

The male Belted Kingfisher I photographed in recent weeks is taking an extended leave of absence for reasons known only to him. His absenteeism is causing me to exhibit serious withdrawal symptoms so last night I searched my archives for a poor substitute for a currently available kingfisher and found this image taken one year ago tomorrow.


1/3200, f/7.1, ISO 640, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

This male Belted Kingfisher at Farmington Bay WMA had landed on the post with a fish in his beak less than a second before I snapped the shutter. He was a little off-balance when he touched down so it took him a moment to recover which caused him to use his left wing to regain balance. I like the recovery pose, the seriously weather-beaten perch and of course the fish.

As much as I miss “my” old friend the kingfisher nearer my home I find this setting refreshing as compared to the jumbled branches and sky background I typically get at the wetlands near the Jordan River. I love the colors and soft bokeh of this background and it’s nice to have a fish other than a weather loach as the prey.

Creature of habit that I am there’s nothing wrong with a little variety from time to time…




41 comments to Kingfisher Landing With A Fish

  • Marty K

    Oooh! He’s lovely! That perch looks a little hard on the tootsies, though.

  • As another creature of habit, I am so grateful to start today (as I do most days) filled with awe and wonder. And beauty.
    Love this, and am also grateful (and a tad surpised) that you picked no nits this morning.

  • John Pierce


    I have a geek question for you. I have been doing BIF for about a year and have made some progress with my camera (Nikon D800) and lens (Sigma 150-600). I have a pair of bald eagles close to my house and during the nesting season they are always around. In the late fall and winter I go to Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River for the amazing gathering of eagles there. My question is about depth of field (DoF). I have used the DoF calculator on the Photopills website. With my camera and lens at 600mm F8 the calculator says the DoF with the subject 50 meters away is 3.3 meters or about 10 ft, which would be about 5 ft in front of the subject and 5 ft behind. My results in the field don’t seem to match up with this as the DoF always seems less than this calculated amount. What are you thoughts and experience? Thanks very much.

    • My experience has been similar to yours, John. At those distances and similar focal lengths I often don’t get as much DOF as the calculators say I should. Part of that is often due to the fact that DOF includes both distance in front of subject and distance behind and I’m often somewhere other than the middle of those distances with my focus, especially for birds in flight.

  • Shirley

    Ron, I am not computer smart so this is the link for “Hoodie eats” hopefully blog.kootenay-lake/?22290

  • Dick Harlow

    Phenomenal superlatives do justice to all of your Kingfisher images that this image is one.
    He has been successful before so he will be back again, not to worry!
    So far, I can only show images of the backside of the male that visits our Purple Martin pole, but I’m optimistic for next year!

  • Shirley

    Love this shot, Ron! It is so hard to get this species without the cluttered background let alone with a fish, thank you. Not sure if this is appropriate or not but you can give me shit if not, a local Blogger with a site of Exploring Kootenay Lake just added to his Blog the other day with “Hoodie Eats”. I was totally shocked at this Hooded Merganser’s lunch, please check it out!

  • Laura Culley

    Just spectacular! There are so many elements that make this image spectacular–the posture, the perch, the background, the fish–all of it! So sorry that YOUR Kingfisher decided to depart, but birds do that. They’ve got places to go and other prey to catch. It’s the way of birds, but never fear–he’ll be back so you get another shot (or several) to achieve your perfection 😉
    As for the Farmington progress, well, it’s best not to get me started on that!

    • Laura, I just checked on “my” kingfisher a few minutes and he’s still a no-show. Playing hard to get I guess…

      • Laura Culley

        Yeah, I get that hard-to-get idea. “My” redtail and “My” Kestrel (who are no more “mine” than the air I breathe), are playing the same game. Jack, the Harris’ hawk, has run out of patience in my ability to serve him quarry, too, so he goes off hunting by himself. That said, he chased and almost caught a roadrunner a couple of days ago, but he evidently didn’t shop at Acme first 🙂 I’m really glad the roadrunner escaped him–just–but it made me wonder why he had no interest whatsoever in quail right underneath him! He needs to catch something soon and I’m not real fussy what it is. We’re both in a crisis of confidence. That’s why I’ve been absent for a while, ignoring the outside world.

  • Patty Chadwick

    The lighting is especially pleasing in this photo…and how the wood has weathered gives an intetesting glimpse into how wood is constructed. Looks like the bird has captured another Weather Loach. An interesting picture for many reasons —besides the fact that the bird, with his funny, stubby, little legs is so interesting, crisp and detailed… the raised wing balancing act.

    • I like the lighting too, Patty. Side light doesn’t always work but I think it did here. Actually this isn’t a loach – it’s most likely a very young carp.

  • Susan Stone

    I hear you about missing “your” Kingfisher. Ever since we spent a lot of time watching “our” nesting pair of Kestrels, I miss them terribly because they rarely appear around here. Ditto for “my” lizards at the park during their brumation season. At the same time, I like the variety also, and definitely like this photo. It may not be of the “right” bird, but he is beautiful, and the whole composition is wonderful.

  • Joanne OBrien

    Great photo. Love those kingfishers!!

  • April Olson

    I enjoy watching and listening to Kingfishers. I am never close enough to photograph. The one time I would have been closer to a Kingfisher at Farminton it was mobbed by 3 other cars. Farmington has been relatively bird-less this year. I hope that is not the pattern for now on with all the construction in the area. The buffer zone is gone. Those surrounding fields were so important for the wildlife. It is now full of tract homes, schools and soon to be freeway.

    • I lament the same things you do at Farmington, April. It’s so very sad.

      I hope you thoroughly enjoy a few days off over the holiday. As an ex-teacher I remember so well how much I looked forward to a little respite from all the pressure (though I’ll admit that now that I’m retired I can usually hardly wait until a holiday is behind me…).

  • frank sheets

    I’m hoping for a Kingfisher fix sometime in my future. Perhaps this summer in Montana. And, I can appreciate your withdrawal symptoms. All of my relatively few experiences with Kingfishers so far has caused my nothing but pain and frustration. I am sure if ever got as good of images you have, I would be absolutly delighted. Well done!

    • Thank you, Frank. I keep thinking back on mistakes I’ve made on kingfishers in flight photos recently. I had many opportunities that I flubbed and in retrospect it’s maddening.

      Good luck with your kingfisher quest!

  • LS Clemens

    Love this photo! Flying in with a fish in his beak, landing on a weathered post. Nice capture!

  • Judy Gusick

    Nice! Setting is great and captures the action of the kingfisher with his prize along with it’s beautiful plumage with no clutter from the usual branches/twigs. 🙂