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The Song of the Laughing Kookaburra

Bird Photography with marysejansenart

Why Laughing Kookaburras laugh

Good Morning Kookaburra by Maryse Jansen
Good Morning Kookaburra

The song of the Laughing Kookaburra

(Worldwide popular nursery rhyme/song, written by Marion Sinclair 1896-1932)

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree

Merry, merry king of the bush is he

Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra

Gay your life must be!

Waking up to the call of the Kookaburra

I love waking up to the call of the Laughing Kookaburra! It’s a pleasant reminder that I am actually in Australia! After about 2 years of preparations it has finally happened: I now officially live on ‘the other side of the world’! It’s October, springtime here Down Under, and the sun rises early. The birds are sure to let me know about it! The Laughing Kookaburra takes the lead and opens the concert just before dawn! After that a chorus of many other birds follows and I lie in bed, just listening to all these strange and fascinating sounds. It’s a much nicer wake-up call then my alarm clock!

The call of the Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra’s diet

The Laughing Kookaburra is part of the Kingfisher-family and the largest bird in this group. Originally native to Eastern Australia, they have also been introduced to Tasmania, parts of Western Australia and New Zealand. Kookaburras can be found anywhere where they can find suitable trees. They need hollows to nest in and a clear view on the ground to see their prey. They perch in the trees looking for prey. When they spot something they dive down to the ground to catch insects, worms, crustaceans, frogs, birds, lizards and snakes – even venomous ones!. If they can eat their prey whole, they will. But if it is too large they will bash it against a hard surface to kill it first.

Some people like to feed them and as a consequence they can get a bit rude around picnic tables and campsites. Once a Kookaburra swooped up my child’s breakfast (bread and cheese) out of their hands!!

During one of my walks I hear a loud bashing noise, echoing through the bush. I look up to see it’s coming from a Kookaburra high up in the trees, bashing a small turtle against a branch in an attempt to make a meal out of it.

On another occasion I actually see a Kookaburra catch a snake! It certainly is no python, so quite likely it is venomous and it is quite a good sized snake! The bird flies out of eyesight with the writhing snake in it’s beak so I can’t be sure how that is going to end but I’m guessing not too good for the snake!

Another Laughing Kookaburra song

Speaking of Kookaburras eating venomous snakes, this reminds me of another children’s song, which was my favourite, and lays out why the Kookaburra is the King of the Bush!!

The Kookaburra Laughed

by Stan Wakefield

Down to the lake came the old black horse,
Down to the lake for a drink,
But the crocodile snapped his jaws and of course
That was the end of the poor old horse;
Said the croc, “I’m king of all this land,
For none can my great jaws withstand”,
But the kookaburra laughed at the boastful croc,
And the kookaburra laughed, ha, ha!

Down to the lake came the buffalo bull.
Down to the lake for a drink,
And he flipped his horns and the old man croc,
Fell with a thump on a big, hard rock;
Said the bull, “I’m king of all this land,
For none can my great horns withstand”,
But the kookaburra laughed at the boastful bull,
And the kookaburra laughed, ha, ha!

The bull trod hard on a little brown snake,
And the little brown snake was hurt,
So he bit that bull on the leg so deep
That the buffalo bull went off to sleep,
Said the snake, “I’m king of all this land,
For none my poison bite can stand”,
But the kookaburra laughed at the boastful snake,
And the kookaburra laughed, ha, ha!

The kookaburra said, as he winked his eye,
“Little snake, how I love you!
Although you call yourself a king,
To me you’re just a tasty thing.”
Then he glided down beside the lake
And swallowed him whole, that little brown snake,
Then the kookaburra laughed, ha, ha, ha, ha,
And the kookaburra laughed, ha, ha!

Laughing Kookaburra by Maryse Jansen
Laughing Kookaburra

The signature song of a family of Laughing Kookaburras

Laughing Kookaburras are creatures of habit: they occupy the same territory all year round and they stay with the same mate for life! Up to 5 non-breeding, mature offspring may stay around to help the parents raise new chicks and defend their territory.

Their laughing call is used to attract and defend mates, create and keep order in the social hierarchy and in marking and defending their territory.

They are most often heard at the crack of dawn and also at the end of the day when darkness sets in. It is a good moment to let others know you are still here and claiming you territory.

Kookaburras can call out at any time of the day but often their call is associated with rain. In my experience they often call both before and after the rain. Maybe it has to do with the change in light and they might think it’s like dusk and dawn?

The call of each Kookaburra family is slightly different. As soon as the fledglings leave the nest they get ‘singing lessons’ from their parents. The dad will start by demonstrating a short part of their family-call and the youngsters try to copy him. It takes about 2 weeks before they fully master their signature song. From then on they are able to help mark their territory!

When one bird starts to call, often a bird from a neighbouring territory will answer. Upon this the whole family clan joins in the call, and the neighbouring birds will also join their leader with their signature song. It is truly a remarkable experience to be surrounded by this echoing laughter in the bush!

If you are interested in purchasing ‘Good Morning Kookaburra’ or would like to see what it looks like on the various products, please head to my shop.

If you are interested in ‘Laughing Kookaburra’, please click shop here.

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