Kookaburra Sits On The Old Gum Tree
The title is from a song taught to my generation of Australians in our early school days - in part:
"Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry, merry King of the bush is he
Laugh, kookaburra, laugh....."
Kookaburras are about the most famous Australian native bird of the bush - they have a family territorial routine where they gather morning and night to sing together their ownership.
It is a raucous laugh, and a truly amazing sound!
Pound Bend, Warrandyte is the home to many kookaburras - without even trying to look for them I often see as many as 10 - 15 of them in the picnic ground itself.
The Laughing Kookaburra, Dacelo novaeguineae, is an Australian carnivorous bird in the Kingfisher family. This species of kookaburra is well known for its laughing call.
The Laughing Kookaburra is a stocky bird of about 45 cm (18 in) in length, with a large head, a prominent brown eye, and a very large bill. The sexes are very similar, although the female averages larger and has less blue to the rump than the male. They have a white or cream-colored body and head with a dark brown stripe through each eye and more faintly over the top of the head. The wings and back are brown with sky blue spots on the shoulders. The tail is rusty reddish-orange with dark brown bars and white tips on the feathers. The heavy bill is black on top and bone colored on the bottom.
The "Laughing Kookaburra" is known by its name for its "laugh" which it uses to greet its mate after periods of absences. It can be heard at any time of day but most frequently shortly after dawn and dusk.
One bird starts with a low, hiccupping chuckle, then throws its head back in raucous laughter: often several others join in. If a rival tribe is within earshot and replies, the whole family soon gathers to fill the bush with ringing laughter. Hearing kookaburras in full voice is one of the more extraordinary experiences of the Australian bush.
Kookaburras hunt by perching on a convenient branch or wire and waiting patiently for prey to pass by. Typical prey includes mice and similar-sized small mammals, large insects, lizards, small birds and nestlings, and most famously, snakes.
This is a completely wild and free bird, photographed at Pound Bend, Warrandyte.
Warrandyte, Victoria, Australia