This description of a Halcyon Kingfisher packs a rainbow of colour metaphors, from pink to green to blue and brown.  Elsewhere the book describes hunted kingfishers strung up sans wings, their exquisite feathers being used for female fashion plumage.

And that lovely idea of a Quill Spirit borrowing colours from the palette of nature to paint a beautiful bird.

And see another quotation which uses the kingfisher itself as metaphor.

‘It may have been that the Quill Spirit had painted the bird with colours stolen from rock and leaf and sky and fern, and enriched them by its fervour, for the bird’s feet were pinker than the rock-veins in the cleaves of Dartmoor, his wings were greener than opening buds of hawthorn, his neck and head were bluer than the autumn noonday sky, his breast was browner than bracken.’


Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F. Tunnicliffe (Harmondsworth: Puffin Books, 1976 (1927)), p. 24

Photo credit: Borix Smorovic at


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