Thursday, January 19, 2023

Poetry Friday: Kingfishers and Queenfishers

I really wanted to do a better job with Poetry Friday this year, but last week there were obstacles like exams and grades and such non-poetic things. I wanted to post about Kingfishers for last Poetry Friday, but here it is today instead.

The American Birding Association recently announced their 2023 Bird of the Year. It's the Belted Kingfisher, but, plot twist! It's the female Belted Kingfisher, which is slightly more colorful than the male, unlike in most bird species. So the artist commissioned to paint the bird called her painting Queenfisher! You can listen to a podcast interview with the artist, Liz Clayton Fuller, here. (And you can also see her beautiful painting.)


What's funny is that I had already thought, while looking through my bird list from 2022, that last year was my Year of the Kingfisher because I saw eight kingfisher species!


Below is a poem by Mary Oliver called "The Kingfisher." It perfectly captures the lightness of those birds, in spite of everything. Then I wanted to write about all the kingfishers I saw last year, the way they hover above the water before plunging to catch a fish, how colorful and debonair they are, and how much fun they always seem to be having, but instead I decided to give all their names in a sort of list poem. (That is, I'm not sure it's a poem, but it's definitely a list.) Neither of these poems (or one could say neither the poem nor the list) mentions my OLW, Feather, but in another way they are both full of feathers, many of them bright blue.

The Kingfisher

by Mary Oliver

The kingfisher rises out of the black wave

like a blue flower, in his beak

he carries a silver leaf. I think this is

the prettiest world -- so long as you don't mind

a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life

that doesn't have its splash of happiness?

Here's the rest of it.



2022 Kingfishers

Belted Kingfisher

Ringed Kingfisher

Amazon Kingfisher

Green Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Woodland Kingfisher

Malachite Kingfisher

African Pygmy Kingfisher

Here's the roundup.


Susan T. said...

Eight kingfishers! That is amazing. I look forward to reading that Mary Oliver poem. Birds must be in the air today, so to speak. I have a blue heron in my poem.

Kay said...

I would love to see one of those kingfishers in action--Oliver describes one with such perfection. Glad you got through all the exams and other non poetic things to join in this week.

Linda B said...

Until reading what you've written about kingfishers, I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't know there were so many. I have seen one, still remember it flitting along a stream, delighting all of us who were hiking that day. This one was the belted kingfisher, common here in CO, Ruth. Thanks for the Oliver poem & for sharing your special list!

Ruth said...

The Belted Kingfisher is the only one in North America. And it's a beauty!

laurasalas said...

Queenfisher--love it! And I think the Oliver beginning as you shared it makes a wonderful poem all on its own, even ending right there. Can't believe you saw 8 different species. Now if only more of them rhymed :>D

Margaret Simon said...

What a wonderful collection of kingfishers. The Mary Oliver poem is perfect. I love how she finds such beauty every day. Looking for birds is like that, seeing beauty every day.

Alan j Wright said...

Thank you for adding to my kingfisher knowledge Ruth. In Australia we have 10 species of kingfisher, including the iconic Kookaburra, a bird not possessed of majestic plummage, but uniquely equipped with a raucous laugh. The Mary Oliver poem is a further adornment

Mary Lee said...

What a list! What truth in Mary Oliver's poem! What an excellent beginning to my Poetry Friday read-through! Thank you for these gifts!!

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, I had to see a picture of a kingfisher so I went to the artist's sit. Her artwork is spectacular, full of color so now I would love to see the live Kingfisher. Thank you for introducing me to this colorful bird. It must be exciting to go birding and find 8 different types of this bird. Enjoy your birding venture in 2023. I am going to find a splash of happiness (Mary Oliver style) today.

jama said...

I love the idea of a Queenfisher! Thanks for the Mary Oliver fix and for your list of kingfishers -- I also didn't know there are so many!

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Love the list poem of Kingfishers. I'm hoping to do a Mary Oliver deep dive later in the year! Thanks for sharing her poem as well!

Michelle Kogan said...

Ah what serendipity I'm in the process of posting a Kingfisher card in my Etsy Shop, and your post is all about Kingfishers, šŸ„° It's from a painting I did a while back but haven't had a chance to post. I love both of the poems here, yours and Mary Olivers, and Liz Clayton Fuller's Queenfisher is lovely! Here's a link to my kingfisher painting on my website: Send me your address sometime and I'll send you the card, thanks for all Ruth!

Robyn Hood Black said...

It's as if several royal avian courts have convened over here this week, Ruth - wonderful! Thank you for your poetic list and for the links. I will miss the coastal birds when we move back to high ground in a few weeks, though I'm happy to report our woodsy yard there has lots of bird life. Best wishes with all your teaching endeavors as well as your writing & birding ones!