Halcyon Bird
Artist : Barrie Morris
Media : Mixed Media
Size : 40 x 50 cm. (plus frame)

Price : Withheld

Status : SOLD

KINGFISHER (Alcedo athis)                                                                                  OCTOBER

This tiny, exquisitely coloured, aquatic British bird really comes to its iridescent best when it catches the sunlight as it darts upon some watery fishing quest. Its bright feathers were once so sought after that the bird faced a real threat of extinction. It is a darting predator of minnows, trout hatchlings, sticklebacks and bullheads, haunting slower moving waterways, preferring canals and meres to fast-moving rivers. On the wing it emits a shrill, single whistle, a tuned ear will know what to expect – a vibrant flash of blue and turquoise to pass shortly.

The Kingfisher chooses to exist in solitude, only getting together with other birds to mate during the spring breeding season, when males and females co- operate in tunneling out places in banks to hold their clutch of half a dozen eggs. Since 50 per cent of chicks fail to live beyond two weeks, a second clutch may be laid as insurance. A hundred fish a day are needed to feed a hungry brood. Greek legend tells of the Kingfisher as a transformation of Alcyone – daughter of their wind god who threw herself into the sea whilst grieving over her drowned husband. Subsequently the wind was calmed for two weeks at Winter Solstice for them to nest in peace. A period known as ‘halcyon days’.