Search for a 'bird of happiness' with 'Halcyon Journey' author Marina Richie

Joshua Murdock

Walking undeterred through thick brush and downed trees alongside Rattlesnake Creek, Marina Richie grinned and proclaimed: “This is the kingfisher mansion.” 

Live reading

At 7 p.m. Thursday in Missoula, where much of the 164-page nonfiction book is set, Marina Richie will read from her book at Fact and Fiction bookstore, 220 North Higgins Ave. 

Richie, 63, was referring to a section of eroded riverbank a few miles north of downtown Missoula where a mating pair of belted kingfishers — the only pair she’s aware of in that area — resides in the latest of its many subterranean burrows that dot the bank. Unlike most birds, which build nests from sticks, moss or other detritus, the belted kingfisher burrows into a vertical or near-vertical riverbank of dirt, clay or sand.

Belted kingfishers are just one of 120 species of kingfisher, but the only one found across much of the United States. Their unusual homes and habits are enumerated in Richie’s new book, “Halcyon Journey,” released in May. Richie, a former longtime Missoula resident who now lives in Bend, Oregon, also chronicles how her search for the elusive bird connected her with the ecosystem of her own neighborhood and helped

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