Some years ago, our family, along with my brother’s family, were building a new cottage on a small lake south of Parry Sound, Ontario. We had the pier foundation put in by a contractor and were busy erecting the log walls on a clear, hot July day. The six children of both families, ranging in age from 3 to 16, were engaged in various activities, including cleaning and staining logs on the beach in front of our cottage. On returning to the beach with another log, they noticed a good-sized bird floundering in the lake not far from shore. The kids rushed out into the water and retrieved the bird, which turned out to be a kingfisher.

The kingfisher had evidently dived into the water to grab a fish but had failed to realize that the water was only a foot or so deep. He had sufficiently injured himself that he was unable to coordinate his wings or fly. There seemed to be no broken wings so the children rigged up a large cardboard box with some grass in the bottom and placed the bird in the box. The older children managed to catch some minnows and were successful in feeding some of them to the kingfisher. Along with adding some water, the children were able to keep the bird comfortable over the next three days.

A couple of times, the kingfisher attempted to take to the air but was still unable to fly. Eventually, however, he was able to get up to the edge of the box and he fly away down the beach and into the trees.

The amazing part of this story occurred the following day when the kingfisher returned and sat in a white birch tree only 15 feet from where we were busy pounding logs into place. He sat in the tree for several minutes, chattering at us with his staccato call.

For those unfamiliar with the kingfisher, they seldom if ever sit still near people and indeed, are most often seen retreating from an approaching canoe. Personally, I have never had a kingfisher come and sit near where I was, and particularly not where a crew of 10 people were busy pounding on logs. In addition, the only time I recall hearing a kingfisher use its rattling call has been during flight. In this case, he sat on the branch and simply rattled away while looking directly at us.

None of us will ever be convinced that ‘our kingfisher’ did not return to say thank you to his rescuers.

R.L. (Bob) Ford

London, Ontario