The kookaburras are the largest members of the kingfisher family and they are heard as much as they are seen. The Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) is well known for its loud crackling laugh, usually heard at dawn and dusk. At other times during the day, sudden outbursts may occur when the bird succeeds in capturing a prey.
The bird that Gloria Seow saw in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia in September 2005 did just that. Despite having a field mouse clamped tightly between the mandibles, the bird was making its infamous laugh.
The bird usually perches for long periods on a branch or tree stump keeping both eyes open for any possible prey. Once it spots one, it pounces on it to take it in its bill. Small items are swallowed whole while large prey are beaten against the ground or taken back to the perch where it is first bashed against a branch before swallowing. It takes frogs, lizards, snakes, insects, snails and even small birds and their eggs.
Generally these birds are tame and allow one to come quite near. Thus Gloria was able to come pretty close to take the picture above using a x6 zoom camera.
The bird was perching on an eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus sp.), also known as a gum tree. Thus Gloria actually saw the kookaburra “sitting on an old gum tree” alright. And heard it laughing.
Input and image by Gloria Seow.