Kookaburra kingdom

This photo of a vigilant kookaburra on my yard gate suits this extract from the chapter on Kookaburras in my book, Mountain Tails:

Moist ground, short grass, worms a-wriggling, birds a-watching — snap!

Kookaburras claim my fence posts, my gates, my tree guards, my guttering, the glasshouse roof and the bare wintry branches of my stone fruit trees. Like sentries in castle turrets, they keep constant watch on their kingdom. For ages they stare fixedly at a spot in the apparently motionless paddock. It’s as if they are commanding a worm to emerge there by such concentrated power of will.

‘In a cold wind they fluff up their feathers: basic off-white, elegantly speckled and heavily striped in chocolate brown, barred with black, underscored by amber, and with those sometimes hidden, so often surprising, sky-blue dabs and dashes on the wings. A backcombing breeze makes their flat heads look ruffled and peaked like punks, but their heavily made up eyes are not distracted from their task.

Their beaks are big and tough and capacious, hooked at the end. Good for catching much bigger prey than worms or beetles, but that’s what’s on the menu in this clearing. Just a snack in between the morning and evening song sessions.

These are Laughing Kookaburras, sometimes called Laughing Jackasses, the largest members of the world’s kingfisher family, all of whom are carnivorous for more than fish. This sort likes mice, as well as worms and insects and reptiles, and there are lots of small mouse-like marsupials here to make residency in my Refuge worthwhile. There are also lots of tree hollows, so it’s a good nesting and breeding place for kookaburra families.

8 thoughts on “Kookaburra kingdom”

  1. Hi Karen! Nice to hear from you– a lovely ‘tail’/story, thanks. I’d be cursing too. Hope they got the message that it’s not edible so don’t try again.
    Reminds me of the baby maggies trying to uproot and eat my aggie pipe.

  2. Hi Sharyn

    I have a cheerful bunch of Kookies who regularly hold group concerts while sitting on my TV aerial. I’m not so happy today though – apparently they have mistaken the flexible black sensor tube on my solar hot water for dinner and have pulled it from its moorings. So – no hot water this morning and a plumber’s bill as well! They’ll have to do a fair bit of laughing to get the smile back on my face!
    Cheers, Karen

  3. I’m afraid that the many kookaburras here have no effect on the snake population DWG. They don’t often look sad– more sharp – but you are right: this one does.

  4. This just might be the answer for the red bellied snake that has homesteaded at your place!! Might at least frighten it off the premises! A most unusual looking bird and it has a sad expression.
    Could that be from having to look at that beak all the time?
    Great photo of your visitor!!! DWG

  5. Am just glad I’m not a worm Laura… incredible beaks aren’t they? Wish I had a kooka’s powers of concentration though.

  6. Sharyn, I just love kookaburras, we are lucky enough to have two that visit our yard. They too sit quietly and intently watch until a tasty morsel appears and then snap, its gone and the kookaburra has delicious breakfast!
    Cheers, Laura.

  7. Hi Karen,
    Thanks very much for giving me that feedback; I’d be keen to know which book though. Is it ‘Mountain Tails’?
    Glad you are enjoying visiting my place, by book or blog! My daughter has two children under three (plus a 9-year old) so I know how brief the times for reading are at such stages of life.

  8. Hello Sharyn. I just wanted to stop by and let you know I am enjoying reading your book, I have been reading some extracts to my children aged 6 and almost three every few days when we travel on a bus somewhere. I happened upon your book while chasing my happy almost three year old through the local library as he pulled books of shelves and looked for something he wanted. For some reason my eye caught this book. Ove the last three years I have found it hard to make time to read a magazine from cover to cover let alone a book for my pleasure not my childrens. I have since found your blog and are enjoying following this too. Kindest regards, Karen

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