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BEAK GANG ASSEMBLES

Thursday morning. Bulletin creative director Jeff Young’s balcony. Mode-one infant kookaburras:
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There are millions of kookaburras in the big city. These are three of them.

UPDATE. This gang gets around. From reader Stephen W. in north Sydney:
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Posted by Tim B. on 05/18/2006 at 01:01 PM
  1. How can one tell they are kookaburras? They have masks on.

    Posted by El Cid on 2006 05 18 at 01:13 PM • permalink

  2. There are Kookaburras in Perth now, also, Rainbow Lorikeets, Turtle Doves and the odd Sulfur Crested Cockatoo.  Greenies want them all killed (humanely no doubt) becuase they’re not “native” - buttholes that they are.

    Posted by lmassie on 2006 05 18 at 01:15 PM • permalink

  3. Damn you Aussies and your colorful wildlife.

    But hey, I saw a cute-as-a-button possum last night…

    Posted by Dave S. on 2006 05 18 at 01:16 PM • permalink

  4. The coolest sonds you have ever heard.  How I miss these waking up to the sound of these cute little buggers

    Posted by Addamo on 2006 05 18 at 01:19 PM • permalink

  5. Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree-ee,
    Eatin’ all the gumdrops he can see-ee.
    Ha-ha hee-hee-hee.
    Ha-ha hee-hee-hee.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers that song.  Glad to finally see what one looks like.

    :-D

    Posted by Barbara Skolaut on 2006 05 18 at 01:19 PM • permalink

  6. Dave S.

    But hey, I saw a cute-as-a-button possum last night

    How many times ya’ figure, it had been run over? Roadkill…mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm…..:).

    Posted by El Cid on 2006 05 18 at 01:31 PM • permalink

  7. I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers that song.

    A Girl Scout camp standard, Barbara. Except the last two lines of that verse as we sang it went:

    Stop, kookaburra, stop, kookaburra
    Save some there for me

    So, do kookaburras actually like gumdrops?

    Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 05 18 at 01:32 PM • permalink

  8. Wow. [MP3 file]! What a crazy call they have! I would never imagine such a sound coming out of such a creature.

    Posted by goldsmith on 2006 05 18 at 01:40 PM • permalink

  9. I always heard:

    Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
    Merry, merry king of the bushes he
    Laugh, kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra
    [something something something] for me.

    Glad to finally see what one looks like!

    Posted by Sonetka on 2006 05 18 at 01:45 PM • permalink

  10. I don’t like the way that one on the left is looking at me.
    I think he wants to kick my ass.

    Posted by Merlin on 2006 05 18 at 01:52 PM • permalink

  11. #8 Thanks.  Made me kind of homesick sitting here in Chicago.

    Posted by lmassie on 2006 05 18 at 02:08 PM • permalink

  12. I thought it goes:

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

    Posted by James Waterton on 2006 05 18 at 02:11 PM • permalink

  13. It can’t be right. They don’t laugh that effeminately.

    Posted by James Waterton on 2006 05 18 at 02:12 PM • permalink

  14. Alien birds do have peculiar feathers.

    (A famous line, so far missing from google!  Take the first letter A as 1, B as 2, wrapping the count around after Z, and you get 1 2 4 8 16 32)

    Posted by rhhardin on 2006 05 18 at 02:42 PM • permalink

  15. As someone mentioned ‘possum, I’ll ask the obvious question:

    How do Kookaburras taste?

    Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 05 18 at 02:58 PM • permalink

  16. Kookas are the F-111’s of the bird world.

    As for possums, they’re flea-ridden pests which invade the roof-space and fuck around all night, keeping one awake. Open season should be declared on the bastards.

    Posted by JAFA on 2006 05 18 at 03:17 PM • permalink

  17. They laugh like that because they shit on the balcony, right?

    Posted by Gary from Jersey on 2006 05 18 at 03:26 PM • permalink

  18. Australian Possums look something like a raccoon.  Introduced to New Zealand, they’re taking the place over.
    American possums are just plain ugly.  Think large beige rat.  My Oz raised son, who thinks all Australian vermin are “sick” or cool or some damn thing, wouldn’t get with 30’ of one.

    Posted by lmassie on 2006 05 18 at 03:48 PM • permalink

  19. This kookaburra modes post of Tim’s is truly a worthy sequel to his earlier one that he links to. Thanks also to goldsmith for the soundfile.

    Posted by ForNow on 2006 05 18 at 03:55 PM • permalink

  20. The kookaburra is also known colloguially as the laughing jackass. Great sound bite.

    Posted by chrisgo on 2006 05 18 at 04:30 PM • permalink

  21. #12 James Waterton

    Me, too. And then verse two is:

    Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
    Eatin’ all the gumdrops he can see.
    Stop! kookaburra, stop! kookaburra
    Save some sweets for me.

    . . . or sump’n like that.

    Posted by m on 2006 05 18 at 05:07 PM • permalink

  22. On my balcony: pigeons.
    I have kookaburra envy.

    Posted by m on 2006 05 18 at 05:07 PM • permalink

  23. Well, I know what I’m going to be singing for the rest of the day.

    Posted by Achillea on 2006 05 18 at 05:41 PM • permalink

  24. James Waterton has it.

    Posted by Stop Continental Drift! on 2006 05 18 at 05:45 PM • permalink

  25. It’s a little known fact that there is a small population of Kookaburras in darkest Africa. They were imported there in the 1930s to provide the spooky jungle maniacal laugh soundtrack in Tarzan movies. Also hyenas were too hard to train, and they demanded residuals.

    Posted by quillpen on 2006 05 18 at 05:48 PM • permalink

  26. A factoid I read somewhere so it must be true:

    The sound that the dolphin Flipper made on his TV show/movies etc was actually a doctored kookaburra call - dolphins don’t make any vocalisations.

    Posted by Margos Maid on 2006 05 18 at 05:51 PM • permalink

  27. Let’s settle this:

    Written By: Marion Sinclair
    Copyright Unknown

    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!
    Leave 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

    Kookaburra sits on a rusty nail
    Gets a boo-boo in his tail
    Cry, Kookaburra! Cry, kookaburra!
    Oh how life can be!

    Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 05 18 at 06:01 PM • permalink

  28. I was always led to believe that another claim to fame of the kookaburra is that they are world’s largest kingfisher, but Mr Google seems to be not so sure.

    Can anyone clarify?

    Posted by Margos Maid on 2006 05 18 at 06:05 PM • permalink

  29. So, Tim, is the kookaburra song originally Australian, or just something Americans made up because of the cool name?  ;-p

    Posted by Barbara Skolaut on 2006 05 18 at 06:14 PM • permalink

  30. Brush tailed possum (Australian) here, ring tailed possum here

    The kooka photo is great. Thanks for the recording of their calls - I hear it in the morning and evening at my place (eat your hearts out you expats!!)

    Possum or Bandicoot soup anyone?
    *Note: bandicoots eat rockmelons, too. I’ve had to fence my self-sprouted rockmelon plant - and it’s full of rockmelons. Kae = 12, Bandicoots = 3 rockmelons!!

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 18 at 06:23 PM • permalink

  31. IIRC Margos Maid they are members of the Kingfisher family. A real predator in the wild although sometimes they can be hand fed on landings,fences etc. just like those in Tim’s photo. Young Kooky birds are not as timid as their parents. They like raw meat and I have often hand fed them with little balls of mince. Sometimes they will return each morning for a free hand out then suddenly they may stop coming altogether. Not like Magpies & Butcher birds who will roll up every day demanding breakfast.

    Came across two Cassowarys on the road to Cape Tribulation on Wednesday. Now there’s a pretty bird but agressive at times.

    Posted by Spag_oz on 2006 05 18 at 06:45 PM • permalink

  32. How many times ya’ figure, it had been run over? Roadkill…mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm…..:).

    Considering he had already made it across before I got to him, then hightailed it back across the road in front of me when he saw my headlights, I’d say his days are numbered.

    Posted by Dave S. on 2006 05 18 at 06:48 PM • permalink

  33. I’d say his days are numbered.

    Yep. Always finding a few tenderized around here, everyday.

    Posted by El Cid on 2006 05 18 at 07:24 PM • permalink

  34. The schoolground lyrics from grade one that I recall are:

    Kookaburra sits on electric wire
    Jumping up and down ‘cos his tail’s on fire
    Cry, Kookaburra! Cry, Kookaburra!
    How burnt your bum must be

    Posted by AnthonyC on 2006 05 18 at 07:26 PM • permalink

  35. #25, They were imported there in the 1930s to provide the spooky jungle maniacal laugh soundtrack in Tarzan movies.

    That is exactly what I thought of when I heard that soundfile:  that’s the bird call in all those old jungle movies!  Brought back nostagic memories of Saturday afternoons and old movies on black-and-white TV.  However, I pictured some exotic multi-hued parrot, or a lethal-looking raptor, not the Aussie version of Tweety Bird.

    Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 05 18 at 07:28 PM • permalink

  36. #28 correct mm, they are the largest of the kingfisher family.

    #7 pretty sure a kookaburra wouldn’t touch a gum drop. they’re carnivorous, feeding on snakes, lizards, insects and the like.  their m.o. is to beat their prey to death.

    as far as crazy birds go, the galah would have to be right up there. they are the galoots of the bird world. loopy at the best of times, the antics they can get up to after a good feed of wheat can have you splitting your sides (the wheat forments and the birds literally become drunk).

    Posted by larrikin on 2006 05 18 at 07:28 PM • permalink

  37. Those birds are dissing y’all down there. They’re laughing at you, calling you out.

    Whatcha gonna do about it?

    Posted by Grimmy on 2006 05 18 at 07:36 PM • permalink

  38. Grimmy

    Having seen kookaburras munching on snakes for breakfast, I think that the best option is the payment of protection mince.

    Posted by Margos Maid on 2006 05 18 at 08:01 PM • permalink

  39. BTW the ‘kook’ in ‘kookaburra’ is pronounced the same as ‘cook’, not to rhyme with the American pronunciation of ‘duke’ (‘dook’).

    Jane Pauley grew up with that song. When she came here with the Today show during the 1987 America’s Cup, she was surprised to learn she’d been pronouncing it wrongly all those years.

    Posted by David Morgan on 2006 05 18 at 08:15 PM • permalink

  40. If kookaburros are gay, why are there so many of them?

    Posted by saltydog on 2006 05 18 at 08:20 PM • permalink

  41. #28- Kookaburras are a mutant kingfisher. We don’t have them at our new place, but the old house had four of the buggers who used to come around to sponge food- they used to fly into the lounge room and perch on the sofa- it was like something out of Hitchcock. They used to send the local noisy mynahs into a pink fit due to their habit of scoffing noisy mynah fledglings.
    We also had owls, rainbow lorikeets, eastern rosellas and a blue heron as regular visitors, and I had a ringtail possum take up residence in one of my motorcycle helmets. Ringtails are nowhere near as obnoxious as the more common brushtail- they’re quiet and polite, unlike their bigger cousins who sound like the legions of the undead while tearing one off and gallop around on iron roofs like a drunken All Black scrum in tags. Bastards.

    Posted by Habib on 2006 05 18 at 08:25 PM • permalink

  42. If kookaburros are gay, why are there so many of them?

    Duh—they adopt.

    Posted by Rob Crawford on 2006 05 18 at 08:28 PM • permalink

  43. The birds in that second photo look like they’re casing the joint for a break-in after dark.

    Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 05 18 at 08:30 PM • permalink

  44. We had a Kookaburra that tamed us in Sydney.

    He’d come off worst in a fight, had lost an eye, it was raining, he was bleeding, and hungry, and weak, and bedraggled, and just waiting to die. Didn’t even have enough energy to flee from us.

    So we hand-fed him some sausage mince. Carefully, those beaks are sharp.

    Some years later…

    He brought along his whole family, and by this time they wouldn’t accept anything other than thinly-sliced steak. Which they duly “tenderised” by beating it against the fence, the same thing they do to snakes.

    They’re birds with character.

    Posted by Zoe Brain on 2006 05 18 at 08:31 PM • permalink

  45. #38

    paying protection mince

    Oh, and this one, “Shooting Gallery”.

    These are my photos, and I figured out how to put them on the web. I’m getting ejumicated in the majik of uploading.

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 18 at 08:32 PM • permalink

  46. #44

    Zoe, you haven’t laughed until you’ve seen a wild Kookaburra killing a cheese sandwich. (they belt bash the snake/lizard/cheese sandwich against the tree branch to kill it)

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 18 at 08:34 PM • permalink

  47. #41

    RE: Possums. Old bushie told a friend of mine who wanted to humanely re-locate a possum who had taken up residence in his roof “Sure, take him out bush. He will get back home before you do.”!

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 18 at 08:38 PM • permalink

  48. Try again with the shooting gallery

    PIMF

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 18 at 08:42 PM • permalink

  49. Wow.  That actually makes me homesick!  I haven’t felt that way in ages!  Wanna see lorrikeets in the heart of North Sydney? They come to my balcony.  Check it out here.null

    Posted by Harry Heidelberg on 2006 05 18 at 08:44 PM • permalink

  50. You want birds, we have birds, they are eating me out of house and home, and the noise, lucky I’m getting old and going deaf. We even have the occassional tasty possum.  Local Birds

    Posted by dodgybob on 2006 05 18 at 08:45 PM • permalink

  51. Glad to hear kookaburras eat baby mynahs, the mynahs are out of control in Melbourne. More kookaburras, please.

    Posted by ilibcc on 2006 05 18 at 08:54 PM • permalink

  52. We have picnicked at a place where Kookaburras would snatch anything portable off hot barbecues. Sausages were their favorites.
    They then dropped them in nearby shallow water to cool them off.

    Posted by graboy on 2006 05 18 at 09:06 PM • permalink

  53. Like a lot of other loud, obnoxious and pushy types, noisy mynahs are an immigrant to Queensland from down south. (We did rescue a baby one though, and raised it until it was ready to bugger off). They are pushing out a few natives. Be careful if you’ve got kookaburras around if you have a rodent problem- baiting rats and mice makes them go outside (hopefully) to croak, anf kookies pick them up asd an easy meal- it sends them blind. We’ve got a huge murder of crows around the new place and some of the sods are the size of a bloody condor; there’s been a few owls calling lately, and I’m trying to encourage them as they will attack crows on sight. Good for keeping down rodents etc as well. The butcher birds resident at the old place seem to have followed us over, along with a tribe of asian house geckos. When I was a whippersnapper in Rockhampton, the local am radio (nothing else then) had a resideint kookaburra called “Jacko”, who would come on the air at about 3pm and call, then read out a list of rug monkeys who were having a birthday that day, and the location of a presso he’d left. Great scam for the station (4RO) and the sprogs who scored an extra gift. Kookies were also the mascot/logo for Movietone News. My local vet specialises in making prosthetic beaks for ones that have damaged theirs- fairly common with window strikes.

    Posted by Habib on 2006 05 18 at 09:06 PM • permalink

  54. The Top 40 Australian Bird Songs

    Kookaburra at number 13.

    Posted by David Morgan on 2006 05 18 at 09:11 PM • permalink

  55. OK, If you don’t like crows, the Channel Billed Cuckoo is the bird for you. Here’s some that grew at my place. They toss the eggs out of crows’ nests and lay their eggs for the crows to raise. Then in summer they come back and collect their kids. They also make a racket (noise), calling at all times of the day and night.

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 18 at 09:22 PM • permalink

  56. To all our American cousins, ‘Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree’ is indeed a song sung in Australian kindergardens and Primary schools since time began. Tim would have probably sung the song at school himself.

    I had the shock of my life when, as a guest of a school in Shanghai, they sang this as part of their performance. I was a very proud aussie indeed, it also proves that the world is really smaller than we think.

    Posted by Nic on 2006 05 18 at 09:23 PM • permalink

  57. #54 David
    That’s a great site. So many of the birds visit my place (even though I don’t see them, I hear them). Thanks for the link.

    And the indian mynah was introduced because the settlers didn’t think the Aussie birds had pleasant songs?

    Noisy miners are plentiful near my place, they will let you know when a snake or other danger is near, too. I have noticed in the last 12 months that Indian mynahs have moved onto my estate, 7 ks from the town.

    I also have babblers which have an interesting call.

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 18 at 09:30 PM • permalink

  58. The house in which I grew up in Southern California backed up against a storm drain (before they bulldozed all the trees and bushes and relined it with concrete), @50’ across and 20’ deep. Brought us a steady stream of raccoons, possums, snakes, etc.

    The possums never made it as far as the street in front of hte house, what with getting our apricots, peaches and plums, and wandering in the neighbor’s back yard, from whence they never seemed to escape.

    Turns out he grew up in West Virginia during the depression, and two of his favorite foods were possum and squirrel pie. Offered to share some pie with us, but I’d seen the possum before it got baked…

    He had to make do with possum, as there weren’t any tree squirrels locally, and nobody with a lick of sense would eat a ground squirrel; and not just because plague is endemic amonst them.

    Posted by steveH on 2006 05 18 at 09:39 PM • permalink

  59. #53 - Speaking of prosthetics - the 1995 IG Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Gregg A. Miller of Oak Grove, Missouri, for inventing Neuticles—artificial replacement testicles for dogs, which are available in three sizes, and three degrees of firmness.
    REFERENCES: US Patent #5868140

    #55 - Crows are smart and soon learn the range of a shotgun using number 4 shot. When I was a youngun, murders of them were stripping our vineyard bare. My father caught a young one, put a bit of string around its leg and tied it to a fence. All the adults landed next to it and wouldn’t leave. He shot the lot. Bit cruel maybe, but he had to make a living.

    My mother made him let the young one go afterwards.

    Posted by Whale Spinor on 2006 05 18 at 09:55 PM • permalink

  60. #55- I’d love to get hold of some; cuckoos are great, what I’d be like if I was a bird- dump your sprogs on some other unsuspecting slob (preferably one that’s obnoxious as well, like farking jackdaws) then goof off for a while, picking up the little sods when they’re fully grown and capable of bludging off someone else.
    Crows have ben in plague numbers ever since councils stopped you shooting the bastards, and they’re getting huge from the abundance of garbage to feed on. I remember my old man shot one once when they were stealing eggs from the chook run, and hung the carcass on the side of the chook pen as a warning- there were dozens of them circling and calling. My mum got so worried they were going to attack us that she took us inside and shut all the windows. I reckon a bogors is too good for those ugly, noisy scavaging sods.

    Posted by Habib on 2006 05 18 at 09:57 PM • permalink

  61. what’s the difference between lorikeets and parakeets?

    Is a parakeet 2 lorikeets? or is a lorikeet a parakeet with a truck?

    Posted by Grimmy on 2006 05 18 at 10:01 PM • permalink

  62. Kae #48 - how right you are.  They are wood ducks (maned geese - not to be confused with journalists) and they are very tasty due to their grazing habits.  Valid game in the states that still allow duck hunting, and feral pests at times in the ones that don’t.

    Posted by SezaGeoff on 2006 05 18 at 10:11 PM • permalink

  63. Parakeet is seppo for budgie. Loikeets are parrots who get shitfaced on fermented flower nectar and have rolling brawls in the street, occasionally getting run over- the avian version of Anthony Mundine fans.

    We’ve got a heap of whistler ducks in the creek up the road, and they look about table ready- the local plod may get a little excited if I sneak up on them and introduce the cute, delicious little scamps to Mr Ruger and his hundreds of balls.

    BTW- I’m always happy to chomp on a goose- I was bitten by one of the vicious turds when a little tacker, and I see it as getting even; a worthy bird, mindlessly violent and tasty.

    Posted by Habib on 2006 05 18 at 10:24 PM • permalink

  64. #62

    Wood ducks, or woodies, they are everywhere here. A menace if you hit one flying at night - a flock flew across the road in front of me one night and took out my driver’s side rear view mirror. Could have been expensive, but only cost me $10. It’s good to live in the country.

    Don’t much like duck myself - too rich.

    Speaking of menaces, there are flying foxes which roost for about 6 months of the year at the creek in town. They are horrible, and I’d rather they not compete with me for stonefruit, which I love.

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 18 at 10:27 PM • permalink

  65. #60 - Gee, Habib, there’s no need to get personal…

    Posted by cuckoo on 2006 05 18 at 10:40 PM • permalink

  66. When living in Singapore, I was amazed to find that every Singaporean knew the Kookaburra song by heart.  It’s in the primary school system songbook.

    Posted by Inurbanus on 2006 05 18 at 10:51 PM • permalink

  67. Hmmm.

    Do they really just come on up to the balconies like that down there?

    Posted by memomachine on 2006 05 18 at 10:57 PM • permalink

  68. I’ve eaten flying fox in Vanuatu- not bad, but a bit fruity. Unfortunately all the local ones who wing up being cooked by powerlines are a tad over-done, and a bit crunchy. The dawgs seem to find them palatable though. My dad had a tame one named Fred, who used to hang upside down off the lattice on the rear verandah while he fed the fleabag slices of mango and pawpaw- he wound up getting the ol’ sparky treatment, hanging off the wire for a few weeks until he rotted enough to drop off; our old boxer found him, and sat behind the couch munching away on poor old Fred. We had to bury him beneath galvanised iron with a breezeblock on top to stop the hound disinterring the crunchy corpse.

    Posted by Habib on 2006 05 18 at 11:02 PM • permalink

  69. ed:  Yes!  Although usually in suburbs with a lot of native trees.

    Balcony railings are an excellent vantage point for them - high up, often over-looking grass - so they can spot prey and swoop.

    Of course if they can cadge a free feed off a sucker of an owner, so much the better!

    I used to get 10 of the blighters lined up on my balcony once they learned that “easy touch lives here”.  Moving slowly, you can sidle right up to most and they’ll eat from your hand (the beak’s not that sharp).  But best not to feed ‘em too much.

    Posted by Stop Continental Drift! on 2006 05 18 at 11:08 PM • permalink

  70. #67

    Ed, maaate, these are NOT plastic birds!

    I saved some brown burrowing frog tadpoles from a puddle at the front of my house after a bit of rain and popped them into an icecream container, just to see what they’d become when they became (?). I fed them a nugget of dried dogfood every day. Then I noticed, before they grew legs, that they were disappearing from their artificial pond. This was the culprit, like shooting fish in a barrell - the clever so and so pushed the top off the container and was fishing out the tadpoles. He’s a butcher bird.


    The view of the ocean in the first kookaburra photo is magnificent, too.

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 18 at 11:09 PM • permalink

  71. #68 mmmm doggy treats (home made)

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 18 at 11:10 PM • permalink

  72. I remember the kookaburra song!  Learned that in elementary school in Southern California no less. 

    #50 dodgybob: those are wonderful pictures.  All we’ve got is robins out back.

    Posted by BeckyJ on 2006 05 18 at 11:24 PM • permalink

  73. My mother made him let the young one go afterwards.

    To pass the warning to the others, heh heh heh…

    Imassie — Lemme get this straight… the greenies want the flying animals killed because of where they’re choosing to fly?

    So what exactly is the difference between greenies and cracker duck hunters…?

    Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 05 18 at 11:29 PM • permalink

  74. Habib, have you tried baked echidna? Very tasty, sweet and fatty. Fruitbat gave me a waking nightmare I return to whenever thoughts of Townsville by night surface. I was riding my bike home from nightshift, no helmet, of course, when I careered into one face-first. Course the stupid thing panicked and dug its claws deeply into the back of my head. Tumbled from the bike and staggered around for minutes trying to tear the bloody thing from my face. Eventually got it off to discover the incident had been witnessed by the entire front bar of the Spearthrowers Arms. You could hear them cackling from Maggie Island.

    Posted by slatts on 2006 05 18 at 11:30 PM • permalink

  75. They’re great birds. My folks live down the coat at Narooma and they get tons of wild birds on their patio scrounging for a free buffet, including a little family group of kookaburras.

    My dad frequently feeds them mince by hand, but carefuly. The expression on their face is a fairly accurate indication of their personalities, they don’t readily make a distinction between the piece of chopped meat and the fingers holding it, I found that out the I-need-a-bandaid way. Then it’s a quick hop over to a convenient post to beat the thing to death. Kookaburras rock, and those baby ones are awful cute

    Posted by Amos on 2006 05 18 at 11:34 PM • permalink

  76. #49 Nice shot, Harry.  Particularly with the harbour bridge and Circular Quay in the background!  (I think you lived in the same building as one of my mates.)

    Posted by ekb87 on 2006 05 18 at 11:40 PM • permalink

  77. #70 Kae, I had an almost identical experience when I was a kid.  Our neighbours removed a decaying above ground swimmng pool, and it rained, filling up the massive pit.  So I grabbed hundreds of tadpoles out of the acidental pond, and hoped to raise them into frogs in a old fish tank.

    Then one day, I go out onto the patio and there’s two magpies perched on the edge treating my taddies like a goddamn Sizzlers buffet!  Bastards!

    Posted by ekb87 on 2006 05 18 at 11:47 PM • permalink

  78. Apparently written by Marion Sinclair for a contest which she won for the Victorian Girl Guides, Kookaburra song.

    Posted by spyder on 2006 05 18 at 11:48 PM • permalink

  79. #74- Never tried spiny anteater, but the indigines are certainly partial to them, as are fox terriers. I’ve had dugong and turtle, and they’re numbawun kaikai. Do you reckon the writer of the script for Alien was in the front bar that night and witnessed the furry facehugger wrapped around your bonce? Did the little sod try slipping you some tongue while he had you in his embrace? (I won’t go further, but many bat species are known to disply fierce erections when agitated or angry…...)

    Posted by Habib on 2006 05 19 at 12:04 AM • permalink

  80. Great posts, Habib! All of ‘em. I’ve been laughing for the better part of an hour.

    Posted by Spiny Norman on 2006 05 19 at 12:56 AM • permalink

  81. You can get Kookaburra wings in Outback Restaurants in the US.

    Never seen ‘em anywhere else though.

    Posted by geoff on 2006 05 19 at 01:25 AM • permalink

  82. #52 They drop the hot sausages in the water to drown them.

    Posted by geoff on 2006 05 19 at 01:32 AM • permalink

  83. #81

    I suspect the kookaburra wings have the same origin as buffalo wings.

    Habib has an excellent turn of phrase. I can usually pick his postings before I see his name; I’m usually laughing. (‘cept when he’s serious, of course!) Thanks Habib!

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 19 at 01:34 AM • permalink

  84. #83 and also spatchcock

    Posted by Margos Maid on 2006 05 19 at 01:59 AM • permalink

  85. #84 Bah - atroposified again!

    Posted by Margos Maid on 2006 05 19 at 02:07 AM • permalink

  86. Fruitbats really are bastards- rats with wings. They carry the lyssa virus, and their prjectile-launched kak is like araldite- it’ll take the paint clean off your car.

    An acquintance of mine made the dubious decision to get totally Helen Kellered in Bowen, and camped out in the open in a paddock next to a stand of stonefruit.

    Awoke the next morning glued inside his sleeping bag by a thick coating of multicoloured and malodorous guano, and his head encased in bright purple poop. Had to burn the sleeping bed and have his head shaved by a most reluctant Italian barber.

    Posted by Habib on 2006 05 19 at 02:31 AM • permalink

  87. They’re fluffy and cute…for now. Once they grow up they will be vicious killing machines, here in Perth kookaburras introduced. One of their favorite pass times is killing smaller native birds.

    Posted by cjblair on 2006 05 19 at 03:28 AM • permalink

  88. #53 Habib,
    Asian House Geckos?. I must have some!. (ever see “The man with two brains”?. Leapin’ lizards!. Yes, we have those too.)

    Posted by Daniel San on 2006 05 19 at 04:22 AM • permalink

  89. Kookas have a long, multi-tiered laugh all around Australia, rising to a crescendo in the middle, and tapering off.

    All Kookas, except those in Coen, Cape York where I spent a pleasant couple of days at the end of last year.  The local Coen Kookaburras would laugh up to the crescendo - and stop - half way through their usual call.  Blew me away - I wish I had a recording of them.

    I asked a couple of the local Aborigines whether that was the normal local Kooka call, and they looked at me as if I had two heads, and confirmed that was how the Kookaburras called. 

    Has anyone else found FNQ Kookaburra calls strange?

    Posted by Kaboom on 2006 05 19 at 05:37 AM • permalink

  90. # 89 Kaboom,

    Apparently it’s the blue winged kookaburra that does that.  See here.

    Posted by Janice on 2006 05 19 at 06:16 AM • permalink

  91. Who’d have thought we were all a bunch of closet birdwatchers? There’s more comments on this post than I remember for weeks.

    Here’s my contribution:

    Kodak Falcons

    Posted by Retread on 2006 05 19 at 07:10 AM • permalink

  92. # 90 Janice:

    Thanks for that!  I’ll be buggered.  I had no idea that there was a sub-species that didn’t laugh as much.

    As I say, growing up with the full-on “laughing” Kookaburra, hearing these in FNQ was completely discordant.

    Thanks again for the linky!

    Posted by Kaboom on 2006 05 19 at 07:19 AM • permalink

  93. The kookaburras in southern Qld have blue feathers in their wings as well- I thought it was a common feature to them, showing their kingfisher heritage.
    As to Asian House Geckos, if you wanr some leave your car parked in the New Farm/Newstead/Hamilton area of Brisbane overnight, and you’ll have a half dozen of the sucker-footed hitch-hikers attached to the underbody; in a few weeks you’re house will be gecko city.

    They’re good for keeping down skeeters and such, but shit all over the place, bark and click like a malfunctioning robot dog and occasionly drop off the ceiling and land on your face like a clammy gimp mask. They also give cats explosive diahorrea, so they’re not all bad. They are partly chameleonic as well, being normally almost translucent but able to pattern match their background. They got loose from ANL wharf in the early ‘80s, but Immigration hasn’t been able to rpound them up and cart them off to Woomera.
    We’ve got a huge mopoke (tawny frogmouth) on our clothesline at the moment, hence all the crows have buggered off to serenade another part of town with their dulcet song. We also have a large population of pheasants and scrub turkeys in residence, and we’re less than 4kms from the gpo.

    Posted by Habib on 2006 05 19 at 08:03 AM • permalink

  94. Those youngsters are still learning to gloat.

    Posted by Carl H on 2006 05 19 at 08:06 AM • permalink

  95. Gay kookaburras? Nah, never seen that.
    But they do have some strange family arrangements. You often see several adult males in the one family, but only one is allowed to mate with mum. All share the baby-feeding.
    In recreational areas they get used to being fed and lose all fear of humans. I have had one fly past my face, taking a steak out of my mouth. I was not my intention to feed it; I was just taking the first bite of a steak sandwich. The bird allowed me to keep the two slices of bread.

    Posted by Skeeter on 2006 05 19 at 08:51 AM • permalink

  96. A sub-species that doesn’t laugh so much?

    Oh yes. The Coen Kookas. Only half a laugh at best. Nice people, keep to themselves, always being caught short on Shabbas.

    Posted by geoff on 2006 05 19 at 09:15 AM • permalink

  97. Youngest daughter Devs saw the kookaburra pic and began singing the song.  A standard in Seppo schools too.  Australian cultural imperialism at work.  (You can keep the beetroot).  Kookshot is now the desktop background on the laptop in the kicthen.
      Local activity: murder of crows that freak me out when they alight on my lawn.  Get thee hence, Lucifer, go curse someone else!  Several varieties of hawk that swoop in on chicadees, etc., with sudden audible whoosh of wing and explosion of feathers. Small nesting birds ganging up on the hawks, dive bombing them, pecking their heads in flight to drive them off, always good. Cardinals, blue jays (sort of a like streamlined blue kook, same attitude, minus the mocking laugh and powerbeak), tufted titmice, hummingbirds, robins, all the usual New England avifauna. Canada geese and swans in the pond down the street. And wild turkeys that clear the birdfeeder when they come out of the woods, with their slow, stately over-sized pigeon head-bobbing gait, standing about 3 feet and a half tall, all beak, big ass, claw and edge of violence nervous tic personality disorder.  If you ever doubted birds are descended from therapods, check these guys out.  Aggressive survivors in woods rotten with coyotes, but dumb as doors, will attack their own reflection in a dark-colored car panel, and win.

    Posted by crittenden on 2006 05 19 at 09:37 AM • permalink

  98. I know you can drink Wild Turkey but can you eat Canada geese?

    Posted by geoff on 2006 05 19 at 09:45 AM • permalink

  99. I think I’d like kookaburras; I get the feeling they don’t take much crap from anything.

    We’ve got one little species of bird here in North Hollywood, not sure what it is, maybe nine inches beack to skinny tail, slate gray color, with three white “D-Day” stripes on each wing.  Not sure of the breed but I think they think they’re p-47’s.  I saw one beating the crap out of a full-size crow in mid-air (must have got too close to the little critter’s nest).  I mean it was just flying rings around the bastard, pecking everything it could reach, and all the crow was trying to do was leave.

    Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 05 19 at 09:51 AM • permalink

  100. Kookaburras are cheap alarm clocks, assuming you want to wake up at dusk.  It’s one that you miss when you’re not in Australia, like I am now.  They sound better than Cockatoos, and are better behaved.  I don’t think Cockatoos have been mentioned here, another Oz bird of flight.  They don’t attack people like in Hitchcock’s Birds, but they eat houses.  Yes, be afraid if you own a house of wood.

    Kookaburra is also the name of a famous cricket ball.

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 05 19 at 10:17 AM • permalink

  101. So people in Singapore and the States learnt the Kookaburra song as children - yet another sign of Howard’s cultural imperialism! :-)

    Posted by Villeurbanne on 2006 05 19 at 10:33 AM • permalink

  102. Eating Canada goose, can do.  Most of the ones I see have parked themselves on a golf course or median strip, however, where shooting is a big no can do. They enjoy crapping on freshly mown lawns. A few years ago, there was a big flap when some duffer claimed he had been attacked by one and plocked it with a driver, popping one of its eyeballs out of its head. Animal cruelty charges ensued.

    Posted by crittenden on 2006 05 19 at 10:38 AM • permalink

  103. Australian Crows.  Now there’s an alarm clock. Wa..Wa…wait for it…......Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    Posted by lmassie on 2006 05 19 at 12:05 PM • permalink

  104. It’s illegal to shoot Canadian geese in Ohio, which is a shame since they’re filling up the state faster than illegal aliens crossing the Mexican border.  Although the EPA did finally break down and allow professional hunters to come into Wright-Patterson AFB and shoot them because they’d become a danger to the aircraft.  Gave the carcasses to the local food pantries, as if those poor people didn’t have enough trouble.  Big, fat, greasy looking birds.

    Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 05 19 at 02:24 PM • permalink

  105. I should say “Canada geese”, I suppose, since they’re not Canadian anymore, they’re Ohioan, nasty mean buggers.

    Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 05 19 at 02:26 PM • permalink

  106. The average Canada goose produces two pounds of crap a day. I forget where i read this, but from the condition of my mom’s lakefront backyard, i can vouch.

    I was in a crosswalk by my office one day when a peregrine falcon swooped right by my head with most of a pigeon in its talons. Sometimes you’ll encounter bits of pigeons on the sidewalks here in Norfolk, as they have a tendency to explode when hit by falcons travelling at 170+ miles per hour.

    Posted by trexkilla on 2006 05 19 at 03:10 PM • permalink

  107. One good thing about the 2 lbs. of goose crap/day is watching golfers trying to keep their heads down while swinging through the ball after the ball has just rolled through a turd.  That green mist just puts them right off.

    Posted by lmassie on 2006 05 19 at 03:37 PM • permalink

  108. Hmmm.

    You should see the crowds of those Canadian geese around here in New Jersey.

    It’s getting to the point where the anti-hunting and anti-gun crowd are calling for limited hunting of the things.

    Shows you both how bad it is, and where their priorities lie.

    Posted by memomachine on 2006 05 19 at 04:34 PM • permalink

  109. #99 - Does it look like this?

    The behavior you describe sounds a lot a mockingbird’s. Not only will they go after crows, but also cats, and sometimes people, typically during breeding season.

    Also, their repertoire of calls is absolutely awesome.

    Posted by Bashir Gemayel on 2006 05 19 at 05:32 PM • permalink

  110. A few folks have referred to us becoming ‘slaves’ to feeding regular visiting Kookaburras. I particularly liked the line ‘easy touch lives here’.
    My folks live in retirement on the glorious Great Ocean Road and have regular visits by Kookas, Magpies, Lorikeets, Honeyeaters, King Parrots, Galahs and Cockatoos.
    It’s hilarious watching Mum and Dad responding to their individual calls for a feed throughout the day. The only ones discouraged are the Cockatoos who will, as someone else mentioned, eat your timber house as well as scare away the others. My 80+ year old father keeps a ‘Master Blaster’ kid’s pump-action water pistol at the ready to scare away the Cocky’s. All the others seem to get on famously together. Priceless!

    Posted by AlphaMikeFoxtrot on 2006 05 19 at 06:08 PM • permalink

  111. As much as they are disliked crows are smart fellas and learn fast. Apparently they have already figured out how to avoid being a victim to the cane toad by only feeding on the lower portions of their road kill thus avoiding the poison glands around the head.

    Then there was the crow in Japan that knew how to work in with pedestrian traffic lights so as to pick up scraps on the road without getting bowled over.

    My ex brother -in- law had a hatred for crows during the time he worked on a sheep station because they would attack new born lambs and pluck out their eyes. His revenge was to set up a plate of raw eggs on an old 4 gallon drum packed with bolts & nails; a stick of gelignite underneath. Waited at a safe distance in a nearby shed with the plunger and when the murder descended…you can guess the rest.

    He had to organize other farm hands to move in & out of the shed prior to the bang so as to confuse the birds because the buggers could count up to about 4 or 5 and maybe figure someone was still in the shed.

    Posted by Spag_oz on 2006 05 19 at 07:36 PM • permalink

  112. #103 lmassie:
    Australian crows go “Faaaaaarrrrrrkk”, just like I do sometimes.  The authority on crow calls was the late Gra Gra Kennedy.

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 05 19 at 11:21 PM • permalink

  113. ‘Gay your life must be’

    The laughter seems forced and manic to me.  Might be bipolar depression.

    Posted by Inurbanus on 2006 05 20 at 12:30 AM • permalink

  114. #80 Spiny Norman, #83 kae;

    Habib’s comments are always pearlers, however my favourite is still this one.

    Posted by HisHineness on 2006 05 20 at 02:03 AM • permalink

  115. Bashir — Looks much like.  As I said, my local birds have three pronounced and symmetrical white bands on each wing, perfect D-Day markings.  Could be a local flava, I guess.

    Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 05 20 at 03:41 AM • permalink

  116. #103 Imassie

    Nope. Crows say faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaark, faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaark.

    Graham Kennedy coined it, and got chucked off the telly!

    Then I read #113, Stevo. Nevermind.

    Speaking of “Attack Birds”, noone has spoken of the savage attacks of magpies (maggies) on kids, and others, particularly pushbike riders and the ends to which people go to avoid attack by the nesting maggies. The idiot kids next door to me decided to stir up the birds. The babblers left (I loved them), but the maggies turned, and every year the maggies nested in the same tree and attacked the kids next door in the nesting season. Hee hee.

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 20 at 07:29 AM • permalink

  117. # 112 and 116
    Hay, at 4:00am, it sounds like Waaaaaaaaaaaaaa.  Maybe it’s got a lisssssp

    Posted by lmassie on 2006 05 20 at 11:53 AM • permalink

  118. #116

    forgive me

    i busted the page
    (or the crows did)

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 21 at 10:01 PM • permalink

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