top of page

Family: Alcedinidae    Chloroceryle amazona    Amazon Kingfisher     Quichua: Tsalaj Wali;      Shagandu (Pastaza)  


Several characteristics of the Kingfisher have impressed Amazonian Kichwa observers:   1) the long spear-like beak that points straight forward, 2).  its visible success at catching fish with this  beak;  3) the solitary quality of tits life- they fish alone, they eat the fish they catch alone sharing their catch with anyone. 4. Despite this solitude they seem to ignore other species with whom they might have interacted (except the fish they eat).  If humans approach they fly straight up or down the river skimming above the water like a motor canoe, looking neither left nor right,  paying little attention to human observers on the shore.  

Hidden inside the kingfisher is an slender elegant human man who is an excellent fisherman.  He would have made a wonderful husband who could provide abundant food for his family except for one thing:  spurned in love he prefers to be alone.  In beginning times when the birds and animals were human people were unable to live peacefully because appropriate structure of marital and kinship relations that allow people to live as relatives were not yet established.  The bird and animal species came into being as various people withdrew from human company because of breakdowns in their human relations.

When he was human Kingfisher was a lonely man expert at fishing with a short black spear.    Otter was a single mother who wandered along the river looking for food with her daughter.  At that time otter did not know how to fish.  Spurned in love Kingfisher went away saying that he would become a bird and his spear would be his beak.  Now when women call out to him he does not turn to look nor does he share his fish.  He just travels alone looking straight forward spearing his own food with his beak and eating alone.  

Bélgica Dagua, "On the origin of the kingfisher."  Youtube video. 8:11  January 1, 2019.

Luisa Cadena, "Origin of the Kingfisher."

Pastaza Quichua. 

Cite video as:

Tod D. Swanson interview, Luisa Cadena, "Origin of the Kingfisher."  9:54.  January 1, 2019.

bottom of page