These birds were photographed at the edge of what I like to refer to as the superb Fairy Wrens’ habitat, in central Queensland. The male with the blue marking is quite ruffled by the hot winds.
These little birds are quick when they move they even sing in bright musical trills. They are delicate and beautiful. They live in in family groups. These groups have more than 100 birds. This group was small, about twenty, birds living in the reeds and weeds (see the female) as the edge of a water hole. This male took a vantage point to have a look around.
Kookaburra call the sky people to light the great fire that illuminates and warms the earth by day….
As the morning star fades Kookaburra laughs his loudest to wake the sleeping for sunrise…..
The Kookaburras call sounds like a laugh – like their native name “Goo Goor Gaga”. For many aboriginal people it is taboo, given the function to start the day, to mimic the Kookaburras call.
The Laughing Kookaburra is found throughout the eastern states and southern Western Australia. There is a similar species called a Blue Winged Kookaburra which as the name suggests has more blue in its plumage.
The Laughing Kookaburra is the largest of the Kingfishers. They are territorial and nest in tree hollow in open woodlands and forest.
You will notice in my photos, that the Kookaburras beak is large the top bill is black and the lower bill is bone coloured.
The head is light coloured with brown marks and a brown stripe from the eye. The wings are brown with a blue mottle. In this image you can see the rufus barring of the tail.
Males often have blue on the rump. So this bird is probably female. Female’s heads are more buff and their rump is brown.
Kookaburras live in family groups. Kookaburra young are not forced to leave their parents territory on maturity. The territorial space is used to meet the needs of young adults (called auxiliaries) and breeding pairs before breeding season. The family group works together to protect offspring, raise offspring and defend territorial boundaries. The auxiliaries do not have a breeding territory or breed while they are in the auxiliary role (usually 4 years). These living circumstances help keep reproduction rates low. Research has shown the auxiliaries provide about 30% of incubation and brooding time, and 60 percent of the food for the hatchlings.
Kookaburras favour a diet of insects and invertibrates. They also eat snakes, lizards, rodents, and occasionally small birds. When a small a snake or lizard is caught the Kookaburra holds its catch in its beak to shake and beat the catch against a tree branch until it is dead.
This female Kookaburra above was observed catching a 15 cm snake and flying to this branch where she killed and ate the snake. She noticed me observing at a distance but allowed me to advance slowly until I was about 10 meters away. She then flew to another perch at a more comfortable distance. She again allowed me to advance slowly to 10 meters. She surveyed the area regularly and eventually flew to a high perch.
I was amazed to discover Kookaburra may live for 20 years. Because the population turnover is slow the birth rate is very low. Kookaburras form permanent pairs. This pair of Kookaburra were perched very high with quite a few people, bicycles and dogs passing by underneath without disturbing them.
Notice the blue rump on the male in this photo below.
Kookaburras are one of my favorite birds. I hope you enjoy them to.
Australian Story tellers like to refer to Emu as Old Man Emu!
Something about the emu does seem old and wise. Emu’s are large standing birds up to 2 meters and with feathers that are brown and droop down they blend well into the grassland.
Emu’s habitat covers much of the Australian continent. Emus make a distinctive deep drumming sound. The male cares for the nest and hatchlings which stay with him for some time. Hatchlings have dark brown to black body stripes. As the hatchings grow these markings fade into the same colouring as their parents as you can see in the photo below.
This male bird was trying to conceal himself from me in an old bush (see the picture below). A Male has blue colouring from side of head down the neck. Female’s head are black. Both of the emus in my pictures are male. Click on the picture and it will enlarge so you can see more detail and the blue marking.
Emus may be solitary in a small group or a large flock. One day I hope to seeing a flock of these birds running.
These photographs were taken on the barge ride between River Heads (the mainland) and K’Gari (Fraser Island) in Queensland, Australia. This barge ride take about an hour.
Fraser Island vehicle barges and passenger ferry services run daily from River Heads, south of Hervey Bay to World Heritage-listed K’Gari (Fraser Island).
The two pieced tail – these are called ‘tail streamers’
It is difficult to identify the species of tern without being able to see the back view or all of their features like leg colour. These bird were flying the entire time I was observing them.
Terns that are are regularly recorded in this locality where these birds were sighted include the Common Tern, ArcticTern, Roseate Tern, White-fronted tern and Black-naped Tern.
However the birds we sighted had an orange/yellow bill and all the previously listed species have a black bill.
The Fairy Tern is not usually found in Wide Bay Queensland. This bird is distinguished from similar birds by its rounded belly, orange yellow bill, a white forehead in early breeding with the speckled black head marking not reaching the bill. These features match the birds sighted. This species breeds August to January. This specimen was sighted in late July so early breeding markings would be developing at that time
The Lesser-crested Tern is also called the tern of the tropics. It was believed to range north (or above) the Tropic of Capricorn. However it is now accepted in bird field guildes that there habitat extends further south to the area these birds were seen and further south to Brisbane. The features of the Lesser Crested Tern matches the birds seen particularly the speckled crown if the birds were non-breeding. Their head markings differ when breeding. The Lesser-crested Tern breeds September to December in the east and south of its range where there specimens were sighted. In late July Lesser-crested Terns at that location would have non-breeding plumage.
Therefore the identification can only be decided by leg colour.The Fairy tern has yellow legs and the Lesser-crested Tern has black legs. Unfortunately the legs cannot be seen. So I went back to the photos to see if there was a clear leg shot anywhere …..
I cannot wait to visit that area again in the hope of seeing these birds again.