I found this poor boy yesterday. He was perfectly positioned as if he was resting. But a bird like this does not stop to rest on the asphalt right outside of a busy warehouse’s open roll-up door.

 Yes, he was dead. But I picked him up anyway. I touch a lot of nasty things in my job – a dead bird was never going to bother me.

He fit right into my hand, my palm cupped perfectly. And still looked so very vibrant and alive. No broken neck. No sign of death by another animal. Not riddled with parasites or even bird-lice. 

I took him to a few of my co-workers: ‘Look what I found! Isn’t it beautiful? What is it, do you think? Looks like a kingfisher to me, but I thought they were bigger?’ Some agreed that he did look like a kingfisher. Most of the lads just exclaimed on how beautiful he was. Or made jokes about me learning taxidermy. Love my coworkers, I really do.

I wrapped him in bubble wrap, put him in a box, and brought him home with me. I wanted to have a better look, identify him for sure, and take photos.


My Irish Wildife book confirmed he was a kingfisher – Alcedo atthis – or Cruidín in Irish. They are 16-17cm long (about 6.5in), and this one was 17cm so an adult. They aren’t endangered, just hard to spot despite the bright colouring.

Most stunning is the bright turquoise stripe. Incredibly vivid and bright!

Wing and foot detail.

Detail of the back feathers. They almost seem to move.

While I am very sad he is dead, I am still happy that I was able to get so close to one of the most beautiful birds I have ever seen. A bird that is now in my freezer… yeah, I’m weird. I might find a taxidermist after all. 

30 responses »

  1. I have spent hours crouched in shrubs waiting for Kingfishers to fly past – you are very lucky. They are one of the most beautiful birds.

  2. Whoa! That is beautiful….but that whole touching-a-dead-bird thing……..

    Still, am glad you did….this was a great view we’d never otherwise have!

  3. Excellent shot of this beautiful bird and yes, you are correct. As sad as I also would have been to see this beauty dead, I would have done the same, because it’s not every day that you can observe beauty like this so up close. Thanks for sharing and you’re not weird. Take it to the taxidermist. 😀

  4. I probably wouldn’t keep the whole fella. Being about as weird as you, I’d take him apart. Wings off; you can dehydrate those as there’s very little flesh in there. Best place would be to hang them up the chimney, but far enough away that there’s no danger of them catching fire or getting blackened by flame. I’d probably unzip him up the tummy, skin him and pin the skin, feathers and all, on a cork board, and dehydrate that. The head’s the tricky bit, and I don’t think I’d be able to save that, but I’d skin it and put it out somewhere in a small cage type thingy to keep predators off, for the ants to clean up, and then I’d keep the skull. And I’d make some kind of montage of the skin, the wings and the skull. So yeah, I’m weird too, and I have far too many butchery skills for most urban people to be comfortable with, but mostly I’m fascinated by birds.

    • That is awesome! I’ve only ever skinned anole lizards that the cats had killed. I’d be so worried about making a mess of it! I grew up in Florida, where if you needed something cleaned to the bone you could toss it on a fire-ant nest and come back in a few hours to perfectly clean bones. I have only seen ants in Ireland once, and they were not in my neighbourhood. I was talking with a friend about getting carrion beetles, but I think my hubby would freak out a bit to have them in the house. How hard is it to cut a bird open without destroying the feathers? I have surgical scalpel blades, so that part isn’t a problem at least.

      • Birds have very loose skin; think about a chicken you’re getting ready to roast; it’s easy to detach the skin from the meat. If you don’t have meat-eating ants, just leave the bones outside for as long as it takes; *something* will clean them. You need a small, sharp pair of scissors to do the unzip up the front (start at the vent and work up), rather than a blade. You’ll lose a couple of feathers, but you’ll hack the skin around less. After that, move on to the blade. Listen, you have to start somewhere. The little guy will stay invisible in the freezer, or you can *try* drying the skin and wings and have a permanent memory of him. If it doesn’t work, well save the best of the feathers and decorate a hat band or glue them to something where they can be seen.

  5. Pingback: More Dead Birds – Bullfinch | heretherebespiders

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