One bird that can be seen on just about every river, lake, marsh, pond, or any waterway in Wisconsin is the belted kingfisher. The cacophonous call of this colorful bird is familiar to all who spend time outside in Wisconsin.
Earlier this year, in Nekoosa Wisconsin, I spotted a pair on Lake Arrowhead. I got out my zoom camera and proceeded to follow them halfway across the lake. Each time I got within photo distance, the birds would chatter and fly away.
This was a theme that played itself out all over the state this year. I tried photographing them on the Wisconsin River, the Kickapoo River, the Brule River, and on Yellowstone Lake. I got a few decent shots, but I got a lot more frustration than clear shots.
Last week I was in the Iwokrama Rainforest in Guyana, South America. On a bridge, I came across a ringed kingfisher. The ringed variety is very similar to the belted. The ringed kingfisher was a little bigger and had a brown breast instead of the brown, blue, and white found on the Wisconsin version.
Another big difference was the ringed kingfisher was a lot more chilled out. It must be the tropical heat as the bird I saw patiently sat on the bridge for five minutes while I clicked away from only about 20 feet away. The belted kingfisher in Wisconsin would have been a quarter mile up the river cackling away like a methamphetamine infused woody woodpecker.
Here is a photo essay of my failures and successes from this year photographing the belted kingfisher and one of the ringed kingfisher. The photo essay is pretty short because a hundred pictures were never taken. Instead, I saw the blue flash of wings and the chattering bird laughing at my photography discontent.
Some tips for photographing the belted kingfisher.
- Get a powerful zoom camera stronger than mine
- Stay in one place near rivers with downed trees and branches where they like to roost
- Camouflage yourself and/or hide behind a tree
- Go to Guyana where the tropical birds are more laid back
- Consider taking pictures of bald eagles instead
If you have better belted kingfisher pictures than me from Wisconsin, feel free to send them to me, and I will add them to this post. I am sure it won’t be hard to beat these shots.
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