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.
By Amanda Jackson