Tasty Afternoon Treat

What could be more Aussie than feasting on prawns on the Australia Day long weekend? 😀 But then afterwards there’s the rearranging of the freezer to fit a bag of prawn heads and shells until it’s bin collection day. Well, over this long weekend, I got rid of some prawn leftovers in a most interesting way!

As you may know, there is a family of kookaburras that hang out around my place a lot. Since they were hanging around the veranda, we put a few prawn heads on the railing to see if they would like to eat them. One of the adults investigated them, picked one up, and after a bit of juggling in its beak, downed it in one go. It then got another prawn head, flew over to the juvenile, proceeded to eat it in front of him, then flew off into the gum tree. I threw a couple of prawn bits and pieces over to the young kookaburra and here’s what happened –

Yum! It went down so fast I didn’t get a photo! Not too surprising really, since kookaburras are part of the kingfisher family who eat fish.

Although I was surprised to find that the kookas weren’t the only ones interested in the prawns. I could not believe it when the big eastern water dragon scurried out from its hiding place towards a piece that had fallen on the ground and started getting in on the action.

Mmmm tasty! 🙂

 

 

One Hungry Baby Kookaburra

Warning – this post may be squeamish for some readers.

For the second year running, a pair of kookaburras have brought their young to show us, although there is only one baby this time around.

Adult kookaburra on the left with a juvenile.

A few days ago I heard the baby kookaburra begging for food in the gum tree by the house and I went out to watch. One of the parents killed a mouse somewhere and brought it to the baby for its evening meal.

The young kookie looked quite happy about it!

Then it sat there on the branch for a minute or so juggling the mouse around in its beak.Then all of a sudden, in one quick movement, down it went!

The young bird seemed quite satisfied.

And then started begging for food again! 😀

 

 

 

 

 

Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree

kookaburra sits in the old gum tree

kookaburra sits in the old gum tree

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see.
Stop kookaburra, stop kookaburra
Save some there for me!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Counting all the monkeys he can see.
Stop kookaburra, stop kookaburra.
That’s not a monkey, that’s me!

 

I bet you couldn’t read that without singing! 😀

Who remembers that song from when they were a kid at school? I certainly do!

The lyrics for “Kookaburra” were written by Marian Sinclair in 1934.  Marian entered the song in a Girl Guides competition for best typical Aussie “round” and won. The catchy song quickly spread and gained popularity worldwide.

If the song is unfamiliar to you, check out this YouTube video.

Now I won’t be able to get that tune out of my head all day!! 😀

 

 

 

Remembering Cookie – A Kookaburra With Leucism

We have always seen kookaburras around where we live, sometimes sitting in the gum trees, occasionally flying overhead, and we almost always hear them at sunrise and sunset. But late 2012 was the first time an entire kookaburra family came to visit.

There was mum, dad, and three babies, and one of those babies was a kookaburra we got to know very well so we named him Cookie. (We could never tell if the kookaburras were male or female, so we just referred to them all as a “he” to make things easier. 🙂 )

Cookie first appeared on 22 December 2012 as a very young kookaburra not long out of the nest. I took this video of Cookie on 23 December 2012.

The kookaburra family seemed to live somewhere west of our house as that was the direction they flew off in at the end of the day. Usually they dropped in for a visit in the early morning or late afternoon, and occasionally received a handout of meat from us.

Cookie got up to all kinds of things when he was young and was an intriguing bird to watch. In the video below taken on 26 December 2012 and filmed looking down from the veranda, you can see him playing with a piece of grass or perhaps a praying mantis, playing with a stick, and stabbing his beak into the sandy pile of dirt.

In February 2013, Cookie had been out of the nest for about 2 months and had grown up. He was as big as his parents and his colouring had lightened considerably since he was a baby. It was at this time that I determined after an extensive internet search, that Cookie had leucism. The photo below was taken 26 February 2013.

Leucism is a condition where there is partial loss of pigmentation and gives the bird much paler plumage colours than is typical for that species. The eye isn’t affected so it’s easy to tell the difference between albinism and leucism.  An albino bird is completely white with pink eyes, while a leucistic bird has lighter coloured plumage and has normal coloured eyes. Take a good look at Cookie’s colours and compare them with the other kookaburras, they are noticeably different. The photo below was taken 26 February 2013.

Cookie visited us almost everyday, with and without his parents, happy to take an occasional snack of meat from us. We often found him on the veranda and he was never scared of either of us approaching him.

Then in December 2013 the kookaburra family grew again as Cookie’s parents had another two babies. As happens in the kookaburra world, Cookie and his siblings hung around to help their parents bring up the new babies. From my observations, Cookie did most of this work while his siblings watched on, seemingly not bothered to help out themselves.

In the photo below you can see Cookie on the far left, one of the parents in the middle, and a baby kookaburra on the far right. This was taken 1 December 2013.

In this next photo, you can see from left to right: baby, Cookie, baby, parent. The photo was taken 8 December 2013.

Here is Cookie feeding one of the new babies with a bit of meat handout from us. This video was taken 8 December 2013.

And this photo of Cookie with a lizard he caught in our backyard shows what a good provider he is. (Photo taken 14 December 2013)

And Cookie could laugh with the best of them too as you can see in the video below. The video was taken 1 December 2013.

All too soon, the new babies had grown up and we noticed that none of Cookie’s siblings seemed to visit anymore. His parents came to drop in once in awhile, but Cookie became a regular. The next two photos were taken 9 November 2013. Notice how much lighter his feather colouring is now compared to when he was a baby.

And so it continued throughout 2014, Cookie visiting almost like clockwork. Towards the end of that year, Cookie would have been about 2 years old. He visited almost every afternoon or early morning, and his parents were still seen on occasion.

Then around October 2014, I noticed that Cookie was flying in from a different direction, and he was leaving in a different direction too. He headed easterly off to the neighbour’s place and perched in a gum tree, but after a short break, he continued flying in a southerly direction out of sight.

This is my final video of Cookie taken on 3 November 2014, although at the time I didn’t know it would be my last one.

In December 2014, I noticed that the length of time between Cookie’s visits became longer and longer. Every morning and afternoon I would scan the trees around for any sight of him, but nothing. And then he stopped coming altogether.

And that was that.

Or so we thought!

Just before Christmas in 2016, almost 2 years after we last saw Cookie, my husband saw him early in the morning on his way to work, sitting on a telegraph wire in the next street down (south from us). I wish I had been able to see him too. It was wonderful to hear that Cookie is safe and well, and has survived to at least being 4 years old. Now, everytime I head south from our place, I’m on the lookout for Cookie.

 

 

A Big Meal For A Little Kookaburra

Warning – the following photos may not be for the squeamish!

Last weekend I saw an incredible spectacle of a juvenile kookaburra chowing down a huge meal. It’s rare for me to see a kookaburra actually eat anything in the wild, and seeing this little bird scoff down an enormous meal was just so amazing I felt I had to share it, as I think many others out there probably would not get to see such a thing very often, if at all.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll remember I have a pair of kookaburras hanging around my place who recently had two little babies.  On this day, I heard an excited sounding baby kookaburra begging for food, so I went outside to see what was going on and saw this.

One of the adult kookaburras had managed to get this excellent catch to feed one of the babies – a red bellied black snake, about 3 feet long, most likely snatched up from the little creek running through the bottom of next door’s property.

The young kookaburra was clearly excited about getting a good feed!

As I watched, the adult flew onto the branch the young one was on and gave it the snake, and the baby snatched it off the parent with gusto.

The young kookaburra had a giant mouthful of snake and all the while was making that loud begging noise, obviously very happy to have been fed such a meal. As I watched, the young bird shook the snake vigorously, although it was very clearly long dead, then started to smack it against the branch, then eventually started to swallow it.

All this took about 10 minutes, then the parent flew off down the valley and the young kookaburra decided to fly off to its usual spot under our house, where it was in complete shade and well protected. Bear in mind, that on this day, it was already 35 degrees Celsius at only 10.30am when this started to take place, and you can see the birds have their wings out to try and keep cool.

The little kookaburra sat like this for a good half hour, just digesting his meal and every so often getting a bit more of the snake down.

The parent came back briefly to see how it was going, then after a minute or so, flew off again, leaving the young kookaburra to finish off his huge meal.

And then it was all gone and the kookaburra had a smile on its face.

I’ve never seen anything like this before. And I really didn’t think that little kookaburra would eat the entire snake because it was such a big meal for a little bird!