Kookaburras are pretty common near us. They’re a type of large slightly punky-looking kingfisher, but they don’t live near water – they hang out in woodlands. They’re carnivorous, eating small reptiles and mammals, and have been known to grab a snag from the barbie.
The picture above is a classic kookaburra pose – they perch on dead branches so they can get a good view of the ground. They’ll have a bit of a look, and either dive on prey to grab it with that big beak, or swoop along to the next tree.
They’re territorial, and often patrol around their boundaries at dusk or dawn in family groups on the look out for invaders. It’s only then that they start doing what they are famous for, and indeed what they’re named after.
It starts with a chuckle, that builds and builds until the full-on maniacal laugh comes belting out. Usually they’re in groups, and the whole lot will be cackling away at full volume to scare other birds or animals off. When a whole gang get going outside your window at dawn you will not sleep through it.
To quote wikipedia: “Hearing kookaburras in full voice is one of the more extraordinary experiences of the Australian bush, something even locals cannot ignore; some visitors, unless forewarned, may find their calls startling”. They’re not wrong. If you were lost in the bush in the heat, I reckon they could freak almost anyone out. Often when people hear the laugh for the first time they think it’s a monkey, but there are no monkeys in Australia. Our wildlife is far crazier than that.
We quite often see kookaburras on the TV aerial outside the back of our house, but we used to get loads around our old house down the road – there were a lot of big trees around with dead branches that they liked. They make a right old racket, but I always smile when I hear them, even if it is at 4am…