Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Collared Kingfisher

I was surprised, yesterday morning, to find a Collared Kingfisher inside our old birdcage which was previously the home of our Black-headed Munias (Lonchura atricapilla).

It was around 10 AM yesterday when I found out about the Mangrove Kingfisher—I just woke up at that time having stayed up the whole night online. I love birds, have kept several birds in the past and I’m always ready to feed and pet one. I asked my brother who owned the bird so that I could ask the owner if it was OK to feed the bird. My brother told me that the Collared Kingfisher was ours and that they were able to rescue it from the stray cat’s fangs—after some time begging the cat to let go of the bird. 

The Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) is a medium-sized kingfisher belonging to the family Halcyonidae, the tree kingfishers.  Also known as the White-collared Kingfisher or Mangrove Kingfisher, it is commonly found in coastal areas, particularly in mangrove swamps. It also inhabits farmland, open woodland, grassland and gardens. In some parts of its range, especially on islands, it can be seen further inland, ranging into forest or into mountain areas.

We don’t really know why the kingfisher ended in our place. We used to see kingfishers in our place years ago, back when we were still close to the sea. Before the reclamation, our house was close to a small mangrove forest—my friends and I used to catch fishes and crabs in the mangrove area as well as gather and eat the fruits of the Nypa fruticans—I miss those days.

I’ve previously read about kingfishers preferring to eat small crabs and they are also known to feed on insects, worms, snails, shrimps, frogs, lizards and small fish. Since we don’t have the bird’s favorite food, I opted for the small lizard. I hand fed the kingfisher a tiny house gecko that I personally caught. Touching geckos usually grosses me out but I had to capture the gecko by hand. I think the White-collared Kingfisher loved it though it spat out the tail. 

In the evening, to prevent the stray cats and our cats from disturbing bird we covered the bird’s cage with an old tarp.

This morning, I was saddened to find out that the White-Collared Kingfisher has died—we never got to name the bird—in my head I called the bird Blue. I don’t know if it was my feeding that killed the bird or if it was cat’s bite. Blue is an addition to our long list of bird casualties—the third bird casualty this year. 

A pet’s death is always a shocker. It would make you silent for sometime. It would make you ask what you did wrong. It would make you not want to get another pet—that’s why we’ve never had pets for some time—we suck at it. It's sad but, come to think of it, I had fun with the Collared Kingfisher and it kept me away from the computer for a whole day yesterday. 

My three-year-old third cousin and I buried the bird under the coconut tree on my uncle’s yard. 

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