Moustached Kingfisher Doodlewash by Charlie O'Shields

The Moustached Kingfisher

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

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46 thoughts on “The Moustached Kingfisher

  1. 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!

    1. 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

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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.

  4. 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)

  5. 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! 😜

    1. 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! 😉

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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!

  7. 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

    1. 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!

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