Aussie Icon - The 'Laughing' Kookaburra

The Problem With Aussie Birds

My aim is to provide regular doses of information and inspiration to help people live their dream as well as the odd funny piece because I think the desire for fun and happiness is a universal goal.

With that in mind you may want to start with this tongue-in-cheek post about Australian birds. It’s designed to take your mind off the festive season for a few minutes and hopefully raise a smile too.

The Problem With Aussie Birds

Did you know that I write a blog schedule so I stay focused on writing the type of informative articles the blogging gurus recommend?

I have to, because otherwise my mind flits from one subject to another as randomly as a butterfly in a cottage garden.

But the first rule of blogging is pick a topic and stick to it.

I try my best to concentrate on helping you improve your life and live your dream, so today I was going to provide you with a post today called “Avoiding Holiday Madness”.

But if you want to avoid something, one effective way is just to ignore it completely. So in the end, that’s what I decided to do here.

Forget the holiday season, cast aside all your stresses and worries for a moment, and take five minutes to bury your head in the sand here. You might even learn something about Australian birds too, or just have a laugh at my expense.

Oh, and in case you’re not of British, Kiwi or Australian stock, please note that there’s a silly pun intended because to us lot ‘birds’ also means girls, chicks or ladies as well as our feathered friends.

Crime Watch Australia

I fully expect there will be a mugshot of me in the next Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter. And if there is, I will place the blame squarely on your shoulders.

I’ve complained before about the noisy birds here in Australia, specifically the cawing crows which seem to have swooped straight out of a Hitchcock movie, and the kookaburras, the national bird famed for its “laughing” call which I find more reminiscent of a demented cackle.

So raucous and vile is the kookaburra’s call that I wanted to share it with you, dear reader.

I was keen for you to experience what life is like here in Australia where we are regularly woken at 4, 5 or at the latest 6am by the kookaburra’s fearful racket, and in this way share a little of our lives Down Under.

So this morning at 5am, as I lay in bed willing sleep to return to me, hearing a kookaburra “laugh” nearby spurred me to stumble out of bed, pull on some ancient, threadbare clothes, grab my camera and venture out into the neighborhood bleary-eyed and shock-haired.

It wasn’t a completely selfless mission as there are two things I love in life nearly as much as chocolate and travel ~ those sworn enemies cats and birds. So while I hunted the not-so-elusive kookaburra I also captured on camera some of the other local avian and feline life.

I must have looked a fright and my strange behavior attracted some funny looks from a dog-lover who was innocently walking her pesky pooch. But when I told her what I was up to she kindly directed me to a small park at the end of a short road called Bond Court.

I lingered there at length, eyes peeled for kookaburras, killing time by peering over peoples’ fences, taking photos of birds in their trees and fantasizing about buying a house there so when people ask for my address I can honestly answer:

“It’s Bond, 007 Bond Court.”

I like to think that the endless cacophony of Australian birds is retaliation for the fact that we Europeans have covered their once pristine breeding grounds with ugly suburban brick houses, manicured lawns and swimming pools.

But, amidst these suburban boxes, one house stood out. Its garden was an overgrown shambles, its trees held four bird nesting boxes and, by standing on tiptoe and peering over the tall wooden fence, I was surprised, and a bit jealous, to see they even had chickens.

Naturally, the place was a focal point for birding activity and soon a kookaburra arrived, being chased aggressively by three other birds, and snatching me rudely out of my idle reverie.

Sadly, this winged harassment had left the kookaburra in no mood for laughing. He did attempt a sad chuckle at one stage, but the recording I got came out so quietly that if you heard it you’d immediately write me off as a misguided madwoman with a tendency for wild exaggeration.

I hung around looking shifty for as long as possible hoping he would let rip, before being chased back home by suspicious stares flung at me from various neighbors.

Several hours and cups of tea later, I realized that there’s probably a kookaburra call on the Internet already. Sure enough, after searching Google for roughly three seconds I came upon a professional recording, so all my efforts were rather pointless.

You can hear a kookaburra “laughing” here thanks to the keen ornithologists at Birds Australia.

For best effect play at full volume. Preferably while you are in a deep sleep.

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Author: Annabel Candy

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Fiona Marsden December 7, 2009 at 1:49 pm

“I like to think that the endless cacophony of Australian birds is retaliation for the fact that we Europeans have covered their once pristine breeding grounds with ugly suburban brick houses, manicured lawns and swimming pools.”

LOL, Annabel – very well put! I, too, curse the noisy birds in my street … but on the other hand, with the rate at which our native species are disappearing, I’m probbaly lucky that the birds are still around to annoy me!

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Randall December 7, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I would like to get into the mind of someone watching you trying to record those birds! What they must have been thinking! What is so commonplace for locals is a facination and I’m sure somewhat of a nuicance for a newbie!
When you change your sorroundings everything can be facinating!
When I am in the Philippines the smallest thing causes me to wonder, like how almost every home has a Rooster tied to a stake in the yard. To average Filipinos this is just a normal part of life. To be honest I don’t believe they even hear the critters!
Thanks!

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Annabel Candy December 7, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Fiona – So true! The noisy birds are a nuisance but we love them really. Apart from the crows – especially when they raid our dustbin. Wish they’d go back to the Hitchcock set they came from:)

Randall – That’s funny. I swear I shared a house with rooster for a week in Zimbabwe and yes, it did crow loudly and persistently every morning. Then I had the same thing in one lot of cabinas in Costa Rica. Not inside this time but the most devilish roosters next door. After a week you don’t notice them any more though.

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Loani Prior December 7, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Hello again Annabel
Thank you for visiting GPB and also alerting me to the Regional Writes post. I didn’t know about it, though I do follow Hughesy. Ah the wonderful web. The very best.
The Tea Cosy Bird.

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Gordie Rogers December 7, 2009 at 4:00 pm

In New Zealand, our national bird the Kiwi is almost extinct and hardly makes a peep. So, different from the kookaburra.

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Murray Smith December 7, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Much to like, I reckon, about your answers in the interview at Stephen Zhao’s Human Explosion site, Annabel. I think the blogosphere could do with many more who share your outlook. Glad I’ve managed to lob here. Muchas gracias!

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Annabel Candy December 7, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Loani – You’re welcome:)

Geordie – I never saw a kiwi in the wild the whole time I lived in New Zealand. It’s very sad. But I do have a soft spot for the lovely tuis which have a lovely song, the native pigeons, the elusive bell birds and the naught kakas.

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Des December 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm

A very enjoyable post Annabel. I’m no stranger to chasing around after birds myself! :-)

We visit Spain quite often and there is litlle owl called a Scops that spends the entire summer night hooting every two seconds. Very haunting from a distance, but some friends of ours who live out in the countryside say it’s not quite so melodious coming from a tree right outside your bedroom window!

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Annabel Candy December 7, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Des – Great to hear from you and so glad you liked my birdy tale. I adore owls too. We saw one through a high powered telescope in Costa Rica once which was exciting. It’s a bird spotter’s haven there. I’ve been to Spain briefly and would love to revisit. The food, ,the people, the architecture all attract me and the chance to practice my grammarless spanish of course:) And maybe spend the night tossing and turning because there’s an owl hooting outside my window!

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Eric | Eden Journal December 8, 2009 at 1:32 am

We used to have a bird feeder in our backyard. We eventually had to take it down. We have a bird called a Whippoorwill. Named becuase of the sound they make over and over and over again. With the close source of food, these birds decided to take up roost in the woods behind our house. They would sing their song everynight as we tried to go to sleep. It’s rather interesting how loud the sounds of nature can really be.

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Nancy Burcham December 8, 2009 at 3:32 am

A flock of kookaburras might be as noisy as the chachalacas that hold their conventions outside my window in Costa Rica, while the congo monkey howls in the background! But here I am in the concrete jungle of CA now, missing every authentic jungle noise of Costa Rica. Yes, it’s sad we’ve lost so much of nature to development. My friend recently said our brain waves are affected positively by bird sounds, and I believe it! Thanks for the diversion from the things I “ought” to be doing, Annabel.

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Annabel Candy December 8, 2009 at 8:33 am

Eden – I’ve heard of the Whippoorwill but I’ve never actually heard them. Brilliant name though. It’s true that nature can be deafening at times, especially when a bird call comes suddenly on dark, still night.

Nancy – Thanks for reminding me of the chattering Chachalacas of Costa Rica and I do miss being woken up by howler monkeys too. If they sounded close enough I’d rush down the road for a closeup. Such special times but we are lucky to have experienced them. I’m sure birds can bring comfort to city slickers too. Even the humble sparrow pecking around and tweeting is a joy really.

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Carolyn Cordon December 9, 2009 at 8:24 am

I love the sounds the birds all make. I’m a bit of a twitcher (avid birdwatcher) and any new bird sound around my place gets me out with my eyes peeled and a bird book at the ready. I record every new bird that comes onto our property and I’m thrilled that even after being here for over twenty years, I still see new birds.
I love magpies and I adore my state bird the Murray Magpie/Magpie Lark/Piping Shrike. A lovely song.

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Anne Lawrence December 9, 2009 at 10:23 am

Excellent Post Annabel!

This morning, just before on my regular walk around the quiet streets of Weyba Park, I marvelled at the common butcher bird feeding its two “teenaged” offspring (they certainly looked big enough to be getting their own food in my opinion).

The “kids” were so darn noisy screaming at mum to give one of them her one and only worm. I think the loudest of them won.

The unsuccessful kid decided to follow mum around screeching at her – no doubt wanting her to find another worm.

All this whilst my Father in law tried to sleep (with his window open and his bedroom right next to the tree).

Ahh, 6am in Noosa! Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Anne.

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Annabel Candy December 9, 2009 at 10:36 am

Anne – Aren’t birds amazing?! Love that story, so reminiscent of feeding time round at my house too! The herons that nest in our garden are already onto their second brood of offspring this year. They put me to shame going through that baby stage twice a year with twins or triplets giving them hell each time!

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Bettina December 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I was born and raised in Europe, where the birds have a refined repertoire – like the evening flutelike performance of the blackbird or the powerful and melodic song of the little Robin – tweet tweet. HA! Arriving here I was woken by bird calls reminiscent of a major traffic intersection experiencing multiple pile ups!
Have to admit though the racket has grown on me, and I have hence discovered the delights of the bell bird’s tinkle or the butcher bird yodel.
It takes a while till a place gets hold of ones heart. Especially when you are laughed at in a most spiteful and cackling manner!

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Annabel Candy December 10, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Bettina – Your english is better than most english speakers. So impressive. The Aussie birds are so brash and loud compared to their European relatives. I’d love to know what evolutionary forces were at work that made them turn out that way!

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kate hayes December 12, 2009 at 12:10 am

Thanks for sharing the kookabura call. That was so cool! Right now I am being serenaded by the toucans about 10 feet away in the tree by the pool. We are so lucky aren’t we? Thanks for yet another upbeat, positive and positively wonderful post.
Cheers dear!
Kate

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