Lifescapes Gallery

25 / Jan / 2012
The Chuckling Assassin of Coorg!
White-throated Kingfisher, Coorg Photograph: Kiran Poonacha Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

The Chuckling Assassin of Coorg!

He’s very successful at his vocation, but the White-throated Kingfisher of Coorg is definitely not one of those brooding, silent killers so beloved of Hitchcock fans; he prefers to announce his presence with a loud chuckle or a staccato laugh that suggests he’s not short of gallows humour, even if the joke’s lost on his audience. Also, in a highly specialized marketplace, he’s a happy exception. He may be a Kingfisher, but he’s an equal opportunities assassin who’s egalitarian in the species he chooses to knock off. The bulk of his prey consists of beetles, rats, small snakes, lizards, scorpions, centipedes and anybody small enough to be disposed with a sharp thrust of his heavy blade. He’s also known to give chase to small birds like Muniyas, Sparrows and Oriental White-eyes, though there have been occasions when White-throated Kingfishers have been found dead with their beaks impaled in a tree, suggesting that the winged prey was too swift, and our villain was hoist with his own petard. When he’s bored with being a landlubber (usually in the wet season), he takes up the assassin’s version of water sports by diving headlong into the deep or plunging feet-first into shallow waters to seize and stab aquatic prey blissfully unaware of the threat from the skies. Some of his unfortunate victims can be forgiven for feeling upset as he doesn’t just skewer them but also bludgeons them against his perch if he suspects they’ve stashed any venomous ‘stinger’ missiles to be unleashed at an opportune moment. If they were but alive to press charges, they’d have included ‘assault and battery’ to that of premeditated murder. And, adding insult to injury would definitely be the assault on their finer sensibilities as they are serenaded to their doom by the ghoulish chuckling of a contented assassin.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 at 7:15 am and is filed under Birds . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Sujit says:

    Wish Hitchcock was around – the idea of an assassin announcing his presence with a loud chuckle or a staccato laugh might have appealed to him 🙂

  2. Sandhya Kedlaya says:

    The article is very well written and aptly captures the determined/focussed expression and persona of the assassin– White-throated Kingfisher.

  3. Keith says:

    Thanks for the post. Well written, gives a good insight into this bird and some of its charecteristics. Would like to know more (if available)..habitats, mating patterns, where else they can be found etc?

    • Karim says:

      It amazes me how many different kinds of birds you have shown me. Birds that I didn’t know visited our area and I’m the one that was born here. Message to self: ‘Keep your eyes open and your month shut’. Maybe better phrased: ‘Stop to smell the rose’. Thank you for your keen eyes and soft words.

  4. Srinivasan Pattoo says:

    A beautiful assassin! Let’s wordhip Nature,the flora and fauna which represent God in HIS/HER incarnations.The most beautiful aspect is the incredible natural balance in the creations which we humans,in the name of development,are destroying.Dear Rajesh, you are doing a wonderful job.Keep it up!

  5. Martina Cote says:

    Always love reading your comments. PLease continue, it makes me feel closer to India….and the Orange County!

  6. Dr Ajit K Huilgol says:

    Superb image of a white-throated kingfisher in flight from one of India’s outstanding photographers!

  7. jyoti agarwal says:

    Nice bird.

  8. Rakesh Tiku says:

    Great picure and great copy!

    I really enjoyed reading this.

    Keep it up!

  9. Laksh says:

    As always, beautifully written.

  10. Suman says:

    Wonderful pictures. I request you to also add camera settings for photo buffs.

  11. Anu Elisha says:

    The exquisite details of the colourful bird against the background is simply superb. Loved the write up too – a perfect match for the wonderful photograph! I wish I could just pack my bags and head for Kabini right now 😉

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