True Blue

Kingfishers are the stuff of legend

Bronwen Scott
4 min readOct 28, 2023
Sacred Kingfisher, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland. © Bronwen Scott

In the middle of the day when the sky was bleached white, a Sacred Kingfisher came down wrapped in blue.

Kingfishers are made of myths

In Metamorphoses, Ovid relates the tale of King Ceyx and Queen Halcyone of Trachis. On a sea voyage to consult the Oracle at Delphi, Ceyx’s ship encounters a violent storm. The ship founders and Ceyx is drowned. Iris, goddess of the rainbow, sends Morpheus to tell Halcyone of her husband’s death. In her grief, Halcyone throws herself into the sea to be with Ceyx. But the gods intervene.

A mole [breakwater], made by the craft of man, adjoins
the sea and breaks the shoreward rush of waves.
To this she leaped — it seemed impossible —
and then, while beating the light air with wings
that instant formed upon her, she flew on,
a mourning bird, and skimmed above the waves.
And while she lightly flew across the sea
her clacking mouth with its long slender bill,
full of complaining, uttered moaning sounds:
but when she touched the still and pallied form,
embracing his dear limbs with her new wings,
she gave cold kisses with her hardened bill.

Taking pity on them both, the gods resurrect Ceyx and transform him into a bird. Together again, Halcyone and Ceyx build their nest on the water. Aeolus stills the winds…



Bronwen Scott

Zoologist, writer, artist, museum fan, enjoying life in the tropical rainforest of Far North Queensland. She/her. Website: