Sacred Kingfisher

The Rev. Canon Dr. James M. McPherson

3 July 2012

Sacred Kingfisher

to kill
silent, still

intent upon
the watercourse

to see
to swoop
to seize

and bring
the prey
up to eat:


The Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus, fam Halcyonidae) is found in Australia and New Zealand and other areas of the southwest Pacific. I had never seen one until staying at Vaughan Park, when I occasionally saw one on a power line over the creek near the old homestead. Returning to Maryborough where I had moved as Rector in 2008, I have been delighted to see them occasionally in the surrounding bushland and wetland.

Because of its quiet and solitary nature (although I once saw three or four of them skylarking in a tree), I feel quite an affinity to this particular kingfisher and am always delighted to see one. Hence this poem.

Alan Fear ( has a delightful photograph of a Sacred Kingfisher on an electric wire – appropriate, since one of my parishioners calls them “electric wire birds” because that’s the only place she ever sees them.

© the Revd James M McPherson

Maryborough Q