What’s all the fuss about?

Ah, nature…peaceful, quiet, serene, all creatures living together in perfect harmony. Not hardly!

A female Belted Kingfisher screams obscenities at another kingfisher over fishing rights to the Wetlands.

When I arrived at the Wetlands on Wednesday morning (10/30) I heard the unmistakable rattle of kingfishers. There were two female kingfishers in the Wetlands. As I watched, one of the birds flew over to a birch snag next to the Wetlands Main Overlook and rattled away. Seconds later another kingfisher flew directly at the first kingfisher forcing it off its perch.

Except for the breeding season in March and April when she may disappear for several weeks, a female kingfisher holds reign over our Wetlands. She is the Queenfisher and this is her domain. Occasionally another shows up, a brief chase ensues, along with a loud vocal thrashing directed at the newcomer. Our resident usually succeeds in convincing the newbie to move on in short order, this is her pond.

Not so today, it was push and shove most of the day. As soon as the intruder landed on a branch, stump, or boardwalk railing our intrepid reigning kingfisher would strafe the newbie forcing her to another perch. The scene was repeated throughout the day; perch, strafe, fly off to another perch, perch, strafe, fly off to another perch.

Curiously, at times the two birds would perch within three to ten feet of one another for several minutes. I assume this was due to fatigue. I imagine it’s quite tiring chasing, or being chased, around a wetland for the better part of a day.

Even while away from the Wetlands I could hear the birds rattle off at one another through the trees that surround the area. Occasionally I would see one or both of them above the trees, wheeling and turning and all the while scolding each other. This raucous behavior continued until somewhere around closing time.

On my last trip through the Wetlands all was silent, no kingfishers in sight. The birds had apparently resolved their differences, or they killed each other. Naw, I doubt the latter. I assume that our Queen finally convinced the intruder to move to another pond further on down the road.

The other kingfisher.

I didn’t see either bird the next morning. Perhaps the stress of the previous day was too much for the birds and they both moved on. I suspect, though, that I’ll see our resident back on one of her favorite perches very soon. But how will I know if it’s our resident bird or the intruder? I don’t think I will be able to tell who’s who if and when one returns. But, I guess it really doesn’t matter, I’ll be glad to see either of them.

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