Halcyon days – kingfishers & the winter solstice

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The Greek legend of Halcyon tells the tale of a young woman who drowned herself after the death of her husband. The gods, touched by her devotion, returned her to earth as a kingfisher and designated the week leading up to the winter solstice as the ‘halcyon days’, a period where she could construct her nest and lay eggs. We may have missed the solstice (the southern hemisphere marked the occasion on 21 June), but we like the story – and it seemed more than enough justification to celebrate some of Wim van den Heever‘s gorgeous images of malachite kingfishers.

Malachites belong to the river kingfisher family or Alcedinidae, one of three families in the suborder Alcedines, which also contains Cerylidae (water kingfishers) and, appropriately enough Halcyonidae or tree kingfishers. © Wim van den Heever

Malachites belong to the river kingfisher family or Alcedinidae, one of three families in the suborder Alcedines, which also contains Cerylidae (water kingfishers) and, appropriately enough Halcyonidae or tree kingfishers. © Wim van den Heever

The juveniles can be distinguished from the adults by their black bills, which will redden with maturity. © Win van den Heever

The juveniles can be distinguished from the adults by their black bills, which will redden with maturity. © Win van den Heever

Malachites feast on small fish, tadpoles, frogs, insects, small crabs and lizards. © Wim van den Heever

Malachites feast on small fish, tadpoles, frogs, insects, small crabs and lizards. © Wim van den Heever

Somewhat unusually in the bird world, males and females are alike, and are monogamous. © Wim van den Heever

Somewhat unusually in the bird world, males and females are alike, and are monogamous. © Wim van den Heever

At 14 cm when fully grown, malachite kingfishers weigh just 17 grams, or the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar. © Wim van den Heever

At 14 cm when fully grown, malachite kingfishers weigh just 17 grams, or the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar. © Wim van den Heever

Find out more about Wim van den Heever‘s work. You can also join him on safari.

 

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About Author

I have had an interest in both photography and nature for as long as I can remember. In my family, taking photographs was more of a lifestyle than a hobby, so we never missed an opportunity to visit southern Africa’s protected areas. My professional photography career kicked off in the commercial world, but it wasn’t long before I realised that my true passion was wildlife and nature photography. Thousands of people are unable or unwilling to take time out in the bush, but this doesn’t not mean that they are indifferent to what is happening daily on our planet. Wildlife photographs keep the bush and nature alive in their minds and remind us, not only about the beauty in nature but also the constant threats posed by humans. Every photograph tells a unique story and I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy producing them. Contact me at wim@odpsafaris.com

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