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HUSH! Do not make a noise! There is a kingfisher
sitting on the bough of the willow tree hanging over
the river. If we once startle him, he will fly away and
we shall not see him again.
How lovely he looks against the grey leaves. With his
long beak and his stumpy tail he is not much larger
than a sparrow, yet he seems to wear all the colours of
He has a bright blue streak down his back, his head and
wings are a lovely green, with blue spots on the tips
of the feathers. His beak is black. His chin and throat
are white. He has a red streak behind his eye, with
soft white feathers beyond, and his breast is shining
like copper. Even his feet are red, and look quite gay
against the dull branch.
He is peering down into the quiet pool under the
willow, watching the fish swimming below. There! he has
darted down to the water. Now
 he is up again with something in his mouth. It is a
small minnow. He taps its head against the branch, and
gulps it down, head first.
Once more, and still one more fish he catches in the
same way. While he is eating the last, another
kingfisher comes and perches by his side. This is his
mate, who has been fishing a little way off. She is not
quite so bright as he is, and has a little bit of red
under her chin.
Now they are going home, and they fly away crying
"Seep-seep-seep" as they go. They live in the trees and
bushes by the side of the river. For you must always
remember that birds do not live in nests. The nest is
only a cradle for their eggs and their little ones. As
soon as they are able to fly, the young birds leave it
with their parents, and do not often live in a nest
again, till they make one for their own eggs.
I do not think you will easily find a kingfisher's
nest, so I must tell you about it. When the mother
wants to lay her eggs, the kingfishers dig a tunnel in
the bank, and when it is made they dart into it so fast
that you cannot see where they go.
But if you could know where it is and dig down from
above, you would find a snug chamber which measures
about six inches across. At the bottom of this chamber
are a number of fish bones which the old birds have put
 are mixed up together so that they make a nice open
floor, where the wet can get away. On the fish bones
lie some shining white eggs. There will be seven, if
the mother has laid as many as usual. And, if the
birds are hatched, there will be seven little birds.
Each bird will have all the lovely colours of which I
have told you. The only difference between them and the
old birds is that their beaks are shorter.
Though you may, perhaps, not find a kingfisher's nest,
you will very likely see some young birds on the river.
I was once out with a friend who was fishing, and while
his rod was over the water, all at once two small
kingfishers flew up and settled upon it. They rested a
moment, and then flew on. He had only just thrown his
fly again on to the water, when two more kingfishers
flew up and sat on the rod. They, too, soon went on. It
was clear that they were young birds just out of the
nest and could not fly far.
The kingfishers are the brightest birds you can see on
the river. They look so pretty among the green leaves,
and hovering over the water, that if you have once seen
them, you will want to see them again.