A Burst of Color, 6 or 7 cm Tall


Photo credit: Mark Waite

Color makes me happy. Animals make me happy. Colorful animals, well, make me ecstatic.

So when I saw this bird pass by on my Facebook feed a few weeks back, I dragged the photo to my desktop. I have a bad habit of pulling any jpeg that interests me to my desktop so I can click on it  whenever I want and be reminded of a funny saying or cartoon or of a beautiful picture. I could use Pinterest for this but I’m selfish. I don’t want to have to make that many clicks or be dependent upon my internet working.

This photo quickly became my favorite so I decided to make it my wallpaper. And instead of increasing its size to fit the whole screen, I tiled it, so I have six of these birds before me whenever I open my laptop.

A couple of days ago, I cleaned up the computer, exported my jpegs to Iphoto and then, put them in the trash. Suddenly, you could see all the birds in their glory. No little jpeg boxes hindering my view.

I was so excited (I’m easy) that I had to show somebody, so I called over the only other person in the house, my 14 year old daughter. She looked at the bird and agreed: it is gorgeous. Then she said something that totally shocked me. She said that it was probably Photoshopped.

My heart sunk in my chest. I wanted this bird to be a real live creature out in the world, not some fabricated version enhanced to appeal to my needy senses. I decided that she had to be wrong. Photoshopped? No way.

And I went about the rest of my day. And the next day.

But I was bothered by her suggestion, so at 10 pm, when I finally got home, I did a little Google research. And this is what I found out.

The photo is of an African Pygmy Kingfisher and was taken by Mark Waite (Markymarketon on Flickr) on February 3, 2010 using a Canon EOS 500D camera. This is what Mark Waite wrote about the photo: This little fella had just flown into our window and winded himself. He took about ten minutes to recover before flying off. I zoomed in from a distance as didn’t want to upset him further. I think he must have been quite young as he only measured about 6 or 7 cm tall.

I Googled images of other African Pygmy Kingfishers and while I didn’t find any that were quite as perfect as the one Mark Waite photographed, they all were similar in color and shape and the look of the feathers.

So, with research behind me, I declared that my daughter’s cynicism was wrong. The photo above, which I hope you are loving as much as I do, is not Photoshopped. And if I am wrong and Mark Waite reads this, I hope he keeps his mouth shut.

And if he doesn’t, well, at least I learned the name of this species of bird and if I ever get to Africa, which I do hope I will someday, and I am lucky enough to spy one, I will share its name with whomever I am with and tell them about my first sighting in 2012.






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11 thoughts on “A Burst of Color, 6 or 7 cm Tall

  1. Even though I am bird-phobic, that is one adorable and delightfully colorful bird. I’m glad you found out what kind it is and that it most certainly wasn’t photoshopped. 🙂

  2. I saved the jpeg of this little guy when I first saw him too! When I questioned what kind of bird he was, Ellen Gregory told me it looked like a kingfisher. That girl knows her birds!

    I’d never seen this species before and was stunned by his tiny size and beautiful colors. I’m so glad he wasn’t photoshopped – another win for the unmatched beauty of creation!

      1. Ha! – Yes, I was going to pipe up and say I’d thought it looked like a kingfinger when Elaine posted it on FB…

        The reason I suspected is because we have several native kingfishers in Australia, most notably the laughing Kookaburra, which has a similar shaped head and beak.

        I’m so pleased to discover I was right! And I too am pleased the photo wasn’t photoshopped 🙂

        1. Elaine mentioned that you named it correctly. I didn’t know a Kookaburra was similar to a kingfisher; we used to sing a song about the Kookaburra when I was very young. You probably know it but here’s the youtube version that I found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MrTbE-xFng. Maybe you have a life of birding in your future.

  3. Hi Sara,
    How funny to come across my photo on your website. I can confirm that it defintely was not photoshopped. As I mentioned in the caption on Flickr, the little chap had flown into our window and knocked himself out. I would have loved to get more (and better) shots but I was aware how frightened and vulnerable he was…so took a quick snapshot and left him alone to recover.

    1. Mark: I’m so glad you took that quick snapshot because it led me on a journey I otherwise never would have gone on. What an amazing world we live in where we can scan through other people’s random photos and find something that moves us toward new knowledge. Thank you for capturing the image and inspiring me and I imagine many others. S.

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