A couple of days ago I spent some time watching a kingfisher diving for lunch off various perches across the river from the cottage. I tried to capture the bird’s fishing prowess so I could share the images…but even with my 300mm lens—the longest I own—the kingfisher was a bit too far away. I’ve posted what I have, anyway If you’ve ever watched a kingfisher fish, you know they fling themselves into the water with the aplomb and grace of a sack of potatoes being lobbed underhanded by your grandma. They dive with abandon, though, and sometimes they’ll kick up a backsplash that goes four feet into the air. You’d think a bird the size of a Canada goose had just hit the water. For all their inelegance, however, they’re pretty effective—at least as successful as some fly fishermen I know trying to hook smallmouth bass rising to popping bugs. Out of twenty crash-dives I tracked, the kingfisher came up with seven minnows. I don’t know if that’s typical, or the bird had found a school of particularly dumb baitfish…or if it was just a run of good luck. But if my past kingfisher watching memories can be trusted, I think that was no more than a smidgen better than average. They’re good at what they do. What amazes me is how, once they’ve nabbed a minnow and flown back to a feeding limb, the kingfisher can turn the little fish around, administer a few additional whacks and slaps, and eat the thing neat as a whistle without dropping it overboard. I’ve baited a lot of hooks with minnows in my time, and even with four fingers and an opposable thumb, I drop those slick and squirmy little baitfish with regularity. If I had to rely on a foot and a beak, I’d never get the job done…meaning, if I were a kingfisher, I’d probably starve. Some days, using binoculars, I can look up and down the river from the cottage, scanning several hundred yards in either direction, watching for the tell-tale splashes, and count two—rarely even three!—feeding kingfishers. This is good minnow water, lots of pools and shallows, plenty of handy sycamore limbs hanging over the water to furnish ideal minnow bushwhacking perches, and not much going on to disturb a bird busily feeding. Maybe I can get lucky and waylay a bird feeding closer…and if I do, we’ll revisit this feathered angler.