Monday, November 12, 2007

New Kid on the Block - The 'Laughing Kookaburra'

I am delighted to report we now have a permanent kookaburra moved onto our property. He has been spotted here each day for some weeks now, hunting in the grass, parking on the fence, and today, bickering loudly with another on the front gate.

I was down below in the studio garden, and heard a loud purring noise coming from the back deck, and there he was, peering at me with his head on one side. He seemed unafraid, and watched me as I moved a little closer to try and get a photograph of him. He allowed me to get to around ten feet from him, when his courage ran out and he flew off.

My man says we could feed him, because they tame very easily, but the poodles chase all wildlife away, and I would hate them to catch and kill him.

I have done a lot of drawings of kookaburras and sold them on eBay in the past. I could pretty much draw one now from memory! Having one so close might tempt me to do some more.

Kookaburras live in large family groups, with the teenagers helping with hunting and feeding the current brood. The young ones can stay in this group for up to five years, even sitting on the eggs! We know where the local groups live, and can guarantee to see at least one on a particular section of road nearby.

This one might be an offshoot from one of these groups, and the other bird today may have been a sibling, or from another group grumping over the boundaries.

Sometimes a crowd will fly onto the roof and laugh uproariously, which can be quite deafening. I love them, with their large heads, intelligent eyes, orange and black striped tails, and blue feathers on the wings. When they call their strong beaks point straight up into the air and their tails rock up and down. Sometimes we see them with a small snake or lizard that they have caught, but they feed mostly on insects and worms in the grass.

"I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn."
... Henry David Thoreau

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