The Resplendent White-Throated Kingfisher
‘Blue as the wings of the Halcyon wild’… goes the poem in my text book by Sarojini Naidu, referring to this bird. Such is the White-throated kingfisher – beautiful enough to be the subject of a poem.
A bird of several colors, it is mainly reddish brown with wings in many shades of blue and a matching tail but what is most striking is its characteristic white throat which almost extends to its belly. This is noticeable from a long distance and shines in sunlight. They have a bright red beak, which is shaped at the base like a star and projects out like an ice-cream cone. The eye is black with a red eye ring and matching feet.
Usually found near water bodies, sometimes one finds it on a tree branch, a wire, a pole or even in a paddy field.
Like all fishing birds, this is a very patient bird. While fishing or looking for food, I have seen it stay at one place for long periods of time, looking intently from its perch without moving a muscle. Then, once potential prey is spotted, they swoop down and reappear with the catch in their beak.
Great focus & patience while hunting…
Their nests are tunnel in mud-holes on river banks and mud cliffs.
They make wonderful parents. I once noticed one making several long trips, as many as 20 odd in an hour to get food for its little ones.
As the name suggests, this is a fishing bird but it has adapted very well to drier habitats and has a varied diet. Just take a look at what else I saw it feeding on:
Although this bird has good survival skills due to adaptability but when we humans take away large parts of its habitat, where is the bird supposed to go?
The place where I took the picture of the bird with the insect was once the Ramgarh Lake near Jaipur in Rajasthan. It was home to this and many other species of birds. It was a huge lake where the rowing event of the 1982 Asian Games was held. But now, it is bone dry.
I have seen the same sad story being repeated in many other lakes.