One year while I was making a series of pictures of some little kingfishers that were brought up in a nest in the edge of a pit about a quarter of a mile away from the Wabash [River], I decided to get pictures of the old birds. I never worked harder, and never did I have better luck.
Kingfishers have long, tiresome waits on snags and stumps above the water to catch the small fish and crabs which make up the greater part of their diet. I wanted to snap them in this position. Up and down the river on both sides and back and forth across the swamp I followed them until I located fifty stumps and branches upon which they lighted every day when they came to fish. Then I had to guess on which stump they would light the next time they came and decide where to place my camera and where to hide myself. Luck was with me. Once I got a picture of a male when he was so close that the scars he got on his big beak while helping his mate dig the tunnel for their nest were in plain sight.
Editor’s Note: The kingfisher study was done early in Gene’s career. Gene photographed a family of kingfishers on the east side of Geneva by the old gravel pit. This is by the Limberlost Creek and the Wabash River. Gene might be surprised that there are kingfishers who still perch and fish in this same area today.