I’m still feeling a bit seedy so decided to stick to the photograph theme as I came across a photograph I really love – of a baby kookaburra sitting on the front verandah fence of our home in Bowraville, mid-coast New South Wales. The kooka looks so curious as if it can’t make up its mind about the human next to it. Mum, on the other hand, was not impressed with her offspring’s adventure and was calling sharply to it the whole time to get away to somewhere safer.
My first introduction to a kookaburra’s call was just after I moved to Australia and was walking to the railway station very early one morning. The streets were deserted when, all of a sudden, there was a demonic cackling sound and I thought I was going to be attacked by some complete nutter. I looked around and there wasn’t a soul in sight, it felt really eerie. Then, all of a sudden, the cackling laugh broke out again and I looked up to see a kookaburra laughing like a maniac on the top of a power pole!
When my husband was working on a high-rise construction project, the crane driver – who was Irish and had only just arrived in Australia – climbed up his crane to start work when a kookaburra perched on the top of the crane suddenly started yelling and bawling. The crane driver skimmed down the ladder to the ground, looking white and shaken, and claiming that he’d heard a banshee and it heralded death. All the blokes were laughing so hard, with tears running down their face, that it took them a while to reassure the guy that he’d heard a bird, not an omen of death.
Kookas are a member of the kingfisher family and have amazingly acute eyesight. They sit on fences or roofs or posts, see something move and they zoom down to catch they prey – lizards, insects, fish, and so on – so fast you can hardly see them move. When we lived in Fremantle, south of Perth in Western Australia, we had a pond with goldfish in, and they kept disappearing. Then one day I saw a kookaburra suddenly swoop down, hit the surface of the pond, and fly off with one of our fattest goldfish. We ended up putting a net over the pool to save the remaining goldfish.
We were lucky enough, when we lived in Boonah, south-east Queensland, to see a blue-winged kookaburra on a regular basis as ith ad a nest in the trees opposite our home. All you see is blur of azure-coloured bird as it was small and moved so fast. Here’s a link to a short video of the bird:
Kookaburras became a sort of totem for us when we lived in New South Wales. In Woodenbong, northern New South Wales, we’d get woken in the early morning by the kookas welcoming the day – you couldn’t sleep through it as it was incredibly loud and raucous. We ended up with a couple of baby kookas being reared in our backyard, which sounds lovely, but their calling to mum and dad for food all the time with mum and dad yelling back, drove us crazy!
Here’s a link to a kookaburra laughing:
We moved to Victoria but didn’t see any kookas. But as we drove from Traralgon to New South Wales to look for a home, we would see kookas sitting on the fence like little watch birds, beady eyes following us as we drove past. And when we settled in Bowraville, a small rural village, the kookas were there in full force, once again waking us just before dawn with their raucous laughter which was actually establishing their territorial boundaries. They are quite bold birds which is why it was relatively easy to get photos of them.