The most popular blog entry on this blog is “Halloween and Barn Owls.” In that post we quote from E.H. Forbush’s book, Birds of Massachusetts and Other New England States. The book is out-of-print and we don’t have a copy, but we do know that at the end of each section about a bird Forbush included a paragraph or two called “Economic Status.” Forbush was a great lover of birds and it was in that section that he attempted to describe for his reader how good each bird was for the economy of New England.
E.B. White also loved birds and kept a copy of Forbush in his Maine farmhouse. White noted that the “economic status” paragraphs usually consisted of a detailed account of what was in the bird’s stomach, proving that it ate mainly pests. White continues,
Forbush struggles to be strictly impartial . . . but his passion for birds is so great that it is always a losing battle. When he got around to defending the Belted Kingfisher, he just had to put his head down and throw punches in all directions. But his conscience got the best of him finally and he ended up: “The mice and grass-eating insects on which it feeds surely count in its favor and the bird probably deserves protection by law, except about fish hatcheries.” (Italics White’s)
Belted Kingfishers do enjoy fish now and again.
You can buy the Forbush book, all three volumes of it, for $222.00 here. The quote from E.B. White comes from The Letters of E.B. White, p -312. (Guth, editor)
The photo of the male Belted Kingfisher is by Kevin Cole. The female is by Mike Baird.