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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The kingfisher on Spring Creek

<ll birds, kingfishers number among my favorites.  They are patient fishers, perching stock still on a branch out over the water, hovering intently, peering straight down along their beaks like a sight, and launching into a dive when they’ve locked onto their target.  They’re wonderful to watch.

However, it’s not too common to see them around this time of the year.  Northfield is at the very northern edge of their year-round range, as the population tends to move South for the winter.  Like the geese and ducks they share the creek with now, they really are just on the lookout for open water they can feed from.  This means they need somewhere warm enough that the water sources won’t freeze over, like the South-western US, or Central America.

Alternatively, they can find water moving fast enough that it hasn’t frozen, and that’s just what Spring Creek provides.  The lower part of the creek, below Lyman Lakes and before it turns the corner to join the Cannon, has been unfrozen the last two weeks that I’ve walked by.

The first week I saw the kingfisher, I heard it before I saw it, its raucous series of chirps echoing out towards West Gym, nearly covered by the cacophony of ducks.  When I saw it swoop across the foot bridge and land on a branch, perched to hunt, I was surprised that it was still here.  But it was, and the movement from the small falls under the highway was enough to keep the water open, covered in ducks and presumably containing some very cold fish.

I was pleased to have gotten to see it before it left for the year, so imagine my surprise when the following week it was still there!  There’s a chance it will stay here and overwinter with us.

If you’re interested in looking for our kingfisher friend yourself, go to the footbridge at the Arb entrance below West Gym, and spend a little time looking in the branches over the water.

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