Mystery Bird: Striped Kingfisher, Halcyon chelicuti

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[Mystery bird] Striped Kingfisher, also sometimes known as the Chelicut Kingfisher, Halcyon chelicuti, photographed near the Pangani River Camp, Tanzania, Africa. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Dan Logen, 13 January 2010 [larger view].

Nikon D300, 600 mm VR lens, ISO 800, 1/1600 sec, f/7.1, Exposure compensation 0..

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

Review all mystery birds to date.

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Brown with blue rump & just a touch of blue on the primaries. Bold mask. Poor directions for making a viola da gamba from a larger instrument.

The Gods their shapes to winter-birds translate,
But both obnoxious to their former fate.
Their conjugal affection still is ty'd,
And still the mournful race is multiply'd:
They bill, they tread; Alcyone compress'd,
Sev'n days sits brooding on her floating nest:
A wintry queen: her sire at length is kind,
Calms ev'ry storm, and hushes ev'ry wind;
Prepares his empire for his daughter's ease,
And for his hatching nephews smooths the seas.


both born of the sea's salt (genus) and described by Salt (species), the whitish collar, black-and-red bill, and relatively dark cap eliminate albiventris... impossible to tell gender while perched, but in flight the male would show a characteristic dark band midway on the leading edge of the primaries

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 21 Mar 2010 #permalink

I like the salt-Salt connection, David.
I'm going to launch another hare-brained effort at further elimination. It seems to me the males of this species (whose pounces get coped) tend to be grayer dorsally and on the crown. The rich brown colors of this individual suggest to me a hen.

Looks like a kingfisher. I think it's a striped kingfisher, Halcyon chelicuti

field marks (?): black line around back of the head and through the eyes, metallic blue lower back, secondary flight feathers and tail, dark upper beak and beak tip, otherwise orange lower beak...

What did I win? :)

Anyway, what's with the strange wordgames in these kind of threads? When I found out the name, I knew what you ment, but do you think those types of posts accomplish in this game?

"What did I win?"

You were doing very well, winning respect... until comment #5...

whatever games are played with words, no matter the nuance or the vagaries, whether one truly believes that mathematics speaks to the infinite or that science has the most perfect language, the choice to indulge in skylarking, espiglerie or wanton junket is the preserve and privilege of the author and no one else... so you can "bring [y]our titles to the marketplace and make a bonfire of them" but leave the Crown alone...

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 21 Mar 2010 #permalink


I enjoy the banter and the witicisms and the clues, and knowing the quote of Laurier above, the only word missing was "disrespect" and that is exactly the opposite of what folks here tend to show because blowing away the readers or the amateurs with revealing the answer to the mystery bird (as you have done before the day is old) takes away the pleasure we get by having to research and follow the clues to arrive at a better undertanding of why we traveled through "the strange wordgames in these kind of threads"!


It'd be interesting to have the mystery birds posted without location and other (google-able) details. Then after (say) 24 hours the location, date, etc added.


Well. I just didn't get it. So, what are the rules here?
Are you expecting everyone who participates to make subtle cues to the identity of the bird so others are not spoiled? After I saw what you did there, I also felt somewhat spoiled, because you already somewhat gave the answer without really stating it. What's about the egyptian goose thread? Everyone was posting the answer there, including me.

In my opinion, those are some strange/curious game rules. Whenever I played a quiz game before, everyone was trying to give the correct answer as fast as they could or on their respective first turns.
I'm not trying to change the way you answer the quiz or something, I just thought it was curious (I don't mean that in a negative way, but in a neutral way. English is not my first language)
Also, I forgot to write a "what" in #5, I meant to write "but what do you think ..."

@ blt: I assume you wrot that because the group's reaction to my posts is becoming more negative with each passing post, except Andrew's. And you jump on the bandwagon. But itâs still an insult to me, even if you use Yiddish words.

Mo, I think that answering the quiz in obtuse riddles is a nice way to do so without ending the game and spoiling the fun right away. Incidentally, I think Andrew's suggestion is a capital one.

Calm down folks! I don't blame Mo for not understanding what's going on: you lot can be rather obscure. :-)

Mo - some of the birders here are just too good: they get it straight away, and it spoils it for everyone else if they say it. So they've evolved this strategy of giving cryptic clues, and having fun with that.

TBH I didn't think there was anything wrong with you identifying the bird: it had been up for several hours. But I'll defer to Grrl on this (as I do on all matters).

okay, this is mostly my fault since i have not formally written out the rules. i see this mystery bird game as still evolving, so hadn't wanted to formally define the parameters until after it seemed to have settled into some sort of "gizz" of its own. however, to preserve everyone's mystery bird experience, i will work on some rules and include those with the upcoming mystery bird. you all are free to suggest changes to the rules or to the wording in that comment thread.

With my mystery object I normally edit the comments containing correct answers to make the name the same colour as the background - this means that they don't act as spoilers (unless someone is subscribed to email reports, in which case the formatting is not taken into account).

You could just request that people who have identified the bird don't use the name, but they could link directly to a wiki page about that species. Then the identification is made, but it isn't a spoiler.

I think it's a shame that comments boxes don't have access to the spoiler tags that some forums use.

By the way, I only just found this quiz and I am loving it!

I think the only rule should be that the answer isn't given in the first 24hrs of the bird being posted. If you know what it is, kudos, but don't spoil it for the people who take delight in solving the clues. I think to formalise this bit of fun, with any other rules, would turn this from an enjoyable few minutes into a contest which would detract from the learning aspect of the posts. I still learn from researching the birds (see the last one) and am sure a lot of other people here do as well. I also learn from the polymath supreme on this site whose linguistics and cryptology causes a lot of frustration and bafflement to the less classically inclined. This post also presents us with some exceptioal picures of a very diverse family which is surely the real reason for the post in the first place.

From puzzle to quiz...

I fear I may have started this trend a few months ago when it transpired that it is impossible for me to view the photographs during the day while at work; asking for clues from John/Adrian/Paul was my way of getting into the business of research but still being afforded the chance to view the bird "clean" at the end of the first day.

Because etymology, range, subspecies, characteristic field marks, age, season, habitat, and even folklore or cultural history are all pointers to identification, playing with words alluding to one or some of them replicates the same process I would follow if in the field- i.e. if it doesn't come to me straight away (quiz) then investigation is my next recourse (puzzle) until I've got it or am close. The more I follow these exercises, just as a child decoding novel words, I move from phonic decoding (puzzle) to sight words (quiz) and ultimately success in the field.

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 22 Mar 2010 #permalink