Monday, March 24

Frozen - the case of the posed kingfisher

"Look, it's a dead kingfisher!"

Manny pointed out a Collared Kingfisher at the base of the swimming pool.  We were walking on a short boardwalk through some mangroves and towards the end an edge-less swimming pool peeked through the mangroves on our left.

It was a strange sight.  No more than a couple of meters away from us, the kingfisher was all wet and bedraggled, in a standing position and its wings spread out.

Why was the lifeless body of a collared kingfisher in a bizarre pose?

"Are you sure it's dead?" Anna and I asked.  "That's a freaky sight."

"Why is it standing like that? Was it posed?"  Ok, maybe I have been watching too much forensic TV drama, but the position was really, really strange.

We all leaned over the boardwalk railings, trying to get a closer view.  Its eyes looked bright and alive!  "It must have just recently died, otherwise the ants would have gotten to his eyes!"

Anthony joined us in a couple of minutes.  "Are you sure its dead?!? Why does it look like that? Are you sure it isn't moving?"

And so we clicked away at the strange, dead kingfisher.  Its lifeless body stood at the catchment for the overflow of pool water.  The terraced design of the stone wall behind him looked looked like some ancient South American civilization ruins plus his bright cobalt blue feathers looked like royal regalia, so we dubbed him King(fisher) of Machu Picchu. Later this became a play of words on the Filipino Macho Pecho ("muscular breast" - referring to a choice chicken cut).

We spent a maybe 5 minutes (at least!)  staring at him, leaning over the fence to get closer views and trying to come up with a COD.  (It turns out that I wasn't the only one watching too many forensic TV dramas)

Did he drown in the pool? Was he fished out and posed by the pool boys as a prank?  Why put him there at the base of the pool?  It was all so bizarre.

When we walked back to the beginning of the boardwalk, Maia and Lanie were stalking a noisy clamorous reed warbler and we told them of the mysterious kingfisher.  As we continued our morning walk across the extensive private estate, documenting plants and birds, our conversation would always go back to the kingfisher.

Later that afternoon, we discovered that our lunch was to be served at the pavilion by the pool!  We were excited to show Maia and Lanie our mystery kingfisher, and to check it out from the poolside.

And guess what?  It was gone!

When Anthony asked the food servers about it, they merely shrugged their shoulders.

"That blue bird?  It goes swimming everyday in the pool. It probably flew off."

It turns out that the kingfisher had gone for its regular morning swim, and was sunning himself and drying out its feathers when Manny spotted him!

Freezing is a known defensive behaviour in birds.  Apparently when confronted the choice is either to fight, flee or freeze.  Obviously, one bird versus 4 humans is not a fair contest so I suppose fight was out.  Flee?  It was so bedraggled and its feathers looked so waterlogged - I guess flee was not an option either.  That left freeze.  Many prey animals freeze to avoid detection (Remember Jurassic Park?  "If you don't move he won't see you?" A move that has worked well when avoiding people too!). Or maybe, to make them look dead and un-appetizing (like how chickens would keel over when a kite is flying overhead). It certainly worked on us!

We all had a very good laugh over the whole incident while eating our lunch. We couldn't get over how we didn't even consider it was alive and just "frozen"! We were had by a kingfisher! Poor thing, it was probably a hair's breadth away from a heart attack with all of us struggling to get closer and staring at it while talking loudly and animatedly!

As we ate our lunch, the collared kingfisher was flying around us, perching around the pool area and calling loudly.  Well, it had certainly gotten over its morning fright, even if we hadn't gotten over how we were all fooled by a frozen kingfisher!


  1. Ok, it looks really bedraggled. I can kinda, sorta imagine why you all got fooled!

    1. Di ba? And then it wasn't moving pa! Thanks for the support Sylvia! Haha.

  2. It stayed "frozen" so you can "let it go" on it's own way. :D

    1. Haha, was expecting some comment in that direction. I guess I should also "Let it go! Let it go!" and get over it!

  3. Haha! This kingfisher really had everyone fooled ha! =P

    1. Yes it did!
      Thanks Maia for posting this on FB for me! ;-)

    2. Hehe, it HAD to be shared! =)