- Physical Description: A small bird with a long pointed beak, the belted kingfisher has a slate-blue head with a crest, a slate-blue back, a white front, and a white collar around its neck. The female has additional rust-colored markings along her chest and sides and is more brightly colored than the male.
- Geographic Distribution: Most kingfisher species are found in the Old World, but the belted kingfisher is found throughout North and Central America.
- Environment: The belted kingfisher lives near bodies of water such as rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes.
Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations
In general, the kingfisher is seen as a symbol of protection and a good luck charm. Legend has it that the Old World kingfisher had more muted colors than the belted kingfisher of the Americas. Supposedly the belted kingfisher received its beautifully colored plumage when it was the first bird released from the Ark after the flood waters were confirmed to have receded, and therefore was the only bird to catch the final rays of the setting sun on its breast and the blue of the twilight sky on its back.
One family of the kingfisher suborder is named Halcyonidae, derived from the same root as our word “halcyon,” meaning idyllic, peaceful, or nostalgic. Greek mythology gives us the story of Alcyone, the daughter of Aeolus (king of the winds), who drowned herself in grief when she discovered that her husband had drowned.
The gods rewarded her devotion by turning her into a kingfisher, and Aeolus forbade the winds to blow during the halcyon days (the seven days before and after the winter solstice) so that the kingfisher could lay its eggs. The fabled “halcyon bird” was said to build its nest on the water itself, something that could only be done during the halcyon days when the seas were calm.
In old Europe, carrying a kingfisher feather was thought to provide protection from misfortune. Hanging a dead kingfisher by a string was thought to serve as a wind indicator, as the bird’s beak was said to point in the direction from which the wind would come
Omens and Divinatory Meaning
Sighting a kingfisher is, in general, a lucky thing. Noting which way the kingfisher was facing may be valuable, as this may be the direction from which good news or an opportunity will come to you.
The kingfisher may bear the message for you to be the one who calms troubled waters, as the legendary halcyon bird was said to do. The halcyon is also said to have possessed the ability to calm winds – you may be the one with the power to clear up muddled communication that’s dogging a particular situation in your life.
The halcyon connection may also be a message to evoke some wonderful memories of your past in order to enrich the present.
Associated Energies: Precision, timing, good fortune, peace, calm
Associated Season: Summer
Element Associations: Air, Water
Color Association: Grey, blue, white, rust, green, red
REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
Wow, I love this kingfisher’s hair do! It’s like a mohawk! 🙂 The featured photo also reminds me of a picture that a fellow blogger features, Christine Bolton at Poetry for Healing.
“…evoke some wonderful memories of your past in order to enrich the present.”
Last night, I was hooked on reading a book to the very end. It’s called the Midnight Library. It’s made me think of all my own experiences in my life that has led me where I’m at today.
“you may be the one with the power to clear up muddled communication that’s dogging a particular situation in your life…”
There’s some things I want to take initiative on soon amongst my friends and family!