The Belted Kingfisher
In spring, as soon as the ice melts over Willow Pond, be on the lookout for the Belted Kingfisher. This large-headed bird with a dagger-like bill and ragged crest will perch high in the willows to watch for prey of small fish or even frogs. The Kingfisher will dive by plunging straight down into the water and it rarely misses its target. The Kingfisher also likes to hunt by hovering in one spot over the water. The presence of a Kingfisher is often heard first: it has a loud rattling call that can be heard from far away as it approaches. The Kingfisher is very territorial and will chase any other kingfisher that encroaches on its territory.
At Mount Auburn Kingfishers can be found also at Auburn Lake and Halcyon Lake. Fittingly, Halcyon is a literary word for kingfisher, named after a Halcyone, a Greek goddess who was the daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx who drowned herself in grief over her husband’s death and was then transformed into a kingfisher. The Kingfisher builds a nest by excavating a burrow on a riverbank or in a cliff. They have nested twice in the Cemetery, once several years ago when the cemetery dredged Halcyon Lake and created a temporary mound of earth behind the Greenhouse. The more unusual spot was during the construction in 1980 of Willow Pond Knoll. A deep circular hole was dug for the Richard Duca monument and in the interim before installing the monument in December 1980, a pair of kingfishers worked on excavating a nesting burrow.
Belted Kingfisher, photo by Jeremiah Trimble