The Moustached Kingfisher

Moustached Kingfisher Doodlewash by Charlie O'Shields

It’s time again for Draw A Bird Day (hosted by Kerfe and Nina at Method Two Madness and originally championed by Laura at Create Art Everyday) so staying in my uncommon series, I chose a super rare one called a moustached kingfisher. This elusive bird has evaded scientists for centuries, earning the nickname of the “ghost bird” of the Solomon Islands. Just last fall, a group of researchers exploring the mossy jungles of the Guadalcanal, the largest isle in the Solomon Island chain, happened across a male moustached kingfisher and snapped its photo for the first time ever. Extreme introverts, they prefer a very hidden habitat and prior to this discovery, only three specimens had ever been researched and all of those were female.

These birds are only active at dusk and dawn, which also may contribute to their ghost reputation and makes them even harder to spot. Though strangers to research teams, the birds are well-known to the people who live in Guadalcanal who call it Mbarikuku and consider it common. Frank Lambert, one of the researchers on the team who made the recent discovery was also able to capture the call of the moustached kingfisher which you can listen to below:


Frank Lambert, XC283789  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0

The discovery of this male moustached kingfisher created a confusion and a bit of an uproar when, minutes after the bird was discovered and photographed, it was quickly killed for further study. This was justified by saying the bird was not in imminent danger of extinction, however it is listed as an endangered species based on current estimates of population size. Researchers think these estimates may be very low and the mysterious bird may actually be more common, but until another “ghost” is spotted, I guess we’ll just never know for sure. If you have an idea for an uncommon creature to include in this series, as always, let me know in the comments!


About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Pyrrol Red, Azo Orange, Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Quinacridone Gold, Dioxazine Purple, Neutral Tint and Titanium White Gouache. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon blue ink, second pen with black ink, third pen with sepia ink, in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you'd like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
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43 Comments
  1. Gayle 2 years ago

    Beautiful rendering – Love the colors and the lively style!

  2. Teri C 2 years ago

    Wow, such a beautiful blue! He deserves to be uncommon.

  3. Jacob 2 years ago

    When I learnt it was Bird Day, I got to wondering what kind of bizarre avian surprise you’d have up your sleeve. The plumage is absolutely stunning! He’s so blazing with colour, character – I’m totally jealous of his spiky bonnet – and wonder that I want to go and track him down myself! I tend to frequent dusk and dawn, so my chances of a sighting are much higher than normal people. 😉 The audio clip is a real treat too. Fascinating stuff!

    • Author

      Yeah…I had some really freaky options, but decided to go for truly cute this time. Though I may still do the freaky options later, of course! Yeah…definitely makes me want to see one in person, but sounds like that’s close to impossible. Oh well…at least I can capture him in doodlewash! Hehe

  4. Carol 2 years ago

    Love the colors of this bird. I understand that science needs to learn, but let the critters live! Suggestion: Just watched a show about mudskippers. Ever heard of them? It is literally a fish out of water, and I thought you might enjoy showcasing them 🙂

    • Author

      Thanks Carol! 😃💕I agree… I don’t think endangered critters should be killed in the name of science ever. And thanks for the suggestion!! I haven’t heard of them…I’ll check them out! 👍🏻

  5. The Velvet Soapbox 2 years ago

    Stunning as!

  6. Kari 2 years ago

    He is absolutely gorgeous! And how tragic that he was sacrificed in the name of science! Your doodlewash is stunning! The feathers look so very soft!

    • Author

      Thanks Kari!! 😃💕 I struggled to get his crazy blue across at first. Took three colors to get it there! Lol Cool creatures and kind of cartoon cute!

  7. Carmel Campbell 2 years ago

    Fabulous…especially the color. I enjoy your narrative. When is that book coming out!

    • Author

      Awww thanks Carmel!! Glad you liked this! And as for the book…hehe… Hmmm… My material is all over the place and I only make 3 paragraphs a day! 😊 I’m never sure which direction to take one! Hehe

  8. Myriam (Myr's Bytes) 2 years ago

    Beautiful bird and summary :-). Gorgeous colours! Thank you! He looks like a fun, chatty fellow. Too bad they shot him. Hopefully his kind really are a bit more common than unusual, and dawn and dusk people do get to see them once in a while.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Myriam! 😃💕 Yeah…these guys are too cute. Hopefully they’ll survive if humans leave them alone long enough.

  9. memadtwo 2 years ago

    I read about that scientist killing the bird, although I didn’t remember the name of it. That was a big problem noted in a recent book I read about 100 species that had gone extinct in the last 200 years. A number of the last known living members were killed by collectors who wanted to study them or sell them to museums. This guy is cute, so I hope his fellow birds stay hidden and alive! (K)

    • Author

      Yeah…it’s so tragic that humans can’t leave nature alone. This guy was a perfect poster child for the problem because he was so darn adorable. Hopefully his kind will continue to thrive and stay hidden!!

  10. Susan Feniak 2 years ago

    Beautifully rendered Charlie. Hopefully the rest of the species are smart and stay ghostly!! Hide! 🙂

  11. Sharon Mann 2 years ago

    Beautiful rendering Charlie, such glorious color. Thank you for a very interesting narrative and sound recording.

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon!! 😃💕 So happy you liked this one. They’re pretty cool creatures. Glad they’re typically elusive from humans.

  12. Savi 2 years ago

    A beautiful piece of art.

  13. Jill Kuhn 2 years ago

    AWESOME Charlie!!! 😄🎨👍 Great to see you are still dazzling us with your fabulous doodlewashes!! Love the colors in this bird – but I would add a more distinct mustache. Just saying! Lol! 😜

    • Author

      Aww thanks Jill! 😀💕 hehe… I couldn’t stop if I tried! I’m rather addicted to doodlewashing! lol And haha… Yeah… you totally would… I’m actually not sure why they call it a “moustached” kingfisher when it really has mutton chops and a bit of beard! 😉

  14. artandmoondreams 2 years ago

    Gorgeous painting, love the colors. You have such a wonderful way of expressing charm and personality, along with depth in the eyes. Enjoyed the recording, sounds so exotic. Heartbreaking about the killing and the justification sounds like a poorly worded excuse. I’m with memadtwo’s above comment, I hope the stay alive, and stay hidden. Thanks for sharing.

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Haunani! 😀💕 Appreciate the compliment! I always try to search for a bit of personality I want to convey with these creatures… even when they’re not this attractive! hehe… and agree… let’s hope these guys continue to stay well-hidden from humans in the future.

  15. This is gorgeous, Charlie! Another favorite for me of all of your work. Terrific colors and shapes and you did a marvelous job with the feet! Beautiful! 💜

    • Author

      Awww thanks, Laura!! 😊💜😀Hehe… this was a fun break from the super weird looking creatures. I have to admit to preferring “cute” characters over the truly bizarre. So glad you liked the feet… none of the few references for this guy showed them as he was in captivity. I wanted to put him back in the wild where he belonged so I had to improvise!

  16. Cathe 2 years ago

    What a handsome Kingfisher. I hate that they killed him, completely illogical and so frustrating. But your painting is superb!

    • Author

      Thanks Cathe! Glad you like this one! 💕😀Yeah… it was super heartbreaking and frustrating to realize that was the immediate next step on finding something so rare and beautiful. But that’s humans for ya!

  17. weisserwatercolours 2 years ago

    ….the story and the painting are equally fascinating, Charlie. wow.

  18. Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

    Oh, good gravy…I had this up for 24 hours and hadn’t commented yet. *sigh* I remember that story (it made the rounds in all the science pages I follow on FB) about the researchers killing the bird for study. I think it’s crazy, honestly, since capturing then banding (electronic tagging) and drawing a blood and skin/feather sample for analyses would have told them most of what they needed to know.

    But your doodlewash is absolutely wonderful! I looooove him! <3

    • Author

      Thanks so much! Glad you liked him, Teresa!😀💕 (I have kept emails open for up to 2 days before remembering to respond! lol) Figured this kingfisher deserved to be doodlewashed. Yeah… I read like three different articles and one said it was sold as a museum specimen. I was confused by the “research” piece as well because it wasn’t necessary like you say. Though if there was money involved, then all bets are off I guess. Poor little guy!

      • Teresa Robeson 2 years ago

        Yeah, poor thing whatever the reason. 😐 But your homage was beautiful! 💕

  19. This is a true beauty, I just googled it. Nice work

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Rebecca! 😀💕Glad you liked him! Cute little guys aren’t they? As long as they keep hiding from humans.

  20. Curious to the Max 2 years ago

    Have you not heard
    of the elusive Kingfisher bird?
    When it is hatched
    It sports a moustache
    Thank goodness there’s no beard
    that would be weird

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