I’m attuned to the call of kingfishers. Listen! There it is now. Yes, the call sounds somewhat like a rattle, yet the word falls woefully short of the more lilting melodic cadence. A kingfisher calls as if harmonizing with the flow of water over rocks, as if it could feel within its hollow bones, the ancient movement underwater of stone upon stone, pulled inexorably downstream toward the confluence.

(courtesy Neiger-CC-Belted-Kingfisher)
(courtesy Neiger-CC-Belted-Kingfisher)

As cottonwoods swoon with sunshine yellow leaves, the kingfishers are on the move. They’re flying up and down my Rattlesnake Creek.

They mostly fly solo, confident, tracing the passage of fishes. Now and then, you’ll see a couple together in fire chase, or maybe even three, a remnant of a family still checking in after fledging in late June or early July.

The cry of the kingfisher tends to precede the view of flashing blue and white bird streaking by.  If the white breast shows a belt of cinnamon red, that’s the female. She’s showier than the male, a rarity in the bird world, and a mystery waiting to be solved.

Female in flight (from www.carolinabirdclub.org)
Female in flight (from http://www.carolinabirdclub.org)

A kingfisher chittered sweetly as the day closed on Rock Creek where I’m camped among red-gold ponderosas and golden fall cottonwoods with friends, one who caught us a fine brown trout for dinner. The female kingfisher who flew upstream from us must be giving a nod of approval with her shaggy crest and angler bill.

Cottonwoods on Rock Creek (Marina Richie photo)
Cottonwoods on Rock Creek
(Marina Richie photo)

My blog is the Kingfisher Journey. I pay homage to my favorite bird in a multiple of ways, but I have a confession. The kingfisher is still waiting for me to finish the book.

I’ve written hundreds of pages off and on since the idea struck me in summer of 2008. My writing group of two other women have patiently offered reviews, advice, and enthusiastic support. The book has evolved, yet in many ways stayed steady too – a twining of natural history, personal experience and mythology.

Halcyon (by Herbert James Draper)
(by Herbert James Draper)

I’ll say no more, except that I have carved out two wonderful weeks next month in Point Reyes, California, to immerse myself into the book and the bird. If this was my year to  run a marathon, it’s time to bring this book to the finish line as well.

In all journeys – destination or not – I heed the call of the kingfisher that is Halcyon, the bird of a transformative Greek myth and the origin of the term Halcyon Days, a time of peace in the world when all our longed for dreams come to fruition.

belted kingfisher art by Claire Emery
belted kingfisher art by Claire Emery