Sunday, August 7, 2011


Male kingfisher,Robert Rafton
Ah, the (Toronto) wildlife photographer's most hated, and devious foe: the Kingfisher.

Technically these are Belted Kingfishers, and I've discussed before how hard they can be to photograph. It can be done though. You just need a bit of patience - okay, a lot of patience - and a little dollop of humility, because I swear these birds actually laugh at photographers.

Female belted kingfisher, Toronto photographer Robert Rafton
You can distinguish the male and female quite easily in the two pictures above since the male has the white chest and the female the band of red. If you see either a male or female, chances are its mate is in the area too.

Toronto kingfisher in flight, Robert Rafton
I mentioned their mocking laughter and often you can hear them before you see them. To get an idea of what to listen for check this recording from the Cornell bird lab. If you keep a sharp ear out you can hear this sound in many Toronto parks and along the lakeshore too.

Toronto kingfisher hovering, Robert Rafton
When they hover like this it likely means they've spotted a fish below and they're just about to dive. And yeah, it would be awesome to get a shot of a Kingfisher in mid-dive. If you want to try all I can say is: Good Luck.