Monday, April 29, 2024

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree

 "Eating all the gumdrops he can see.

Laugh, kookaburra, laugh 

Kookaburra, save some there for me."

This song was my introduction to the kookaburra when I was a child, even though I had no clue what they were, or what they were referring to as a gum tree. What they call a gum tree in Australia, we refer to as a eucalyptus tree. What I also learned is the the gum trees cover all the eucalypt tree, of which the eucalyptus is one! The laugh refers to the call of the kookaburra,  which is very loud and raucus, and part of it definitely sounds like laughter. 

It has been such fun seeing all the "new to us" birds, animals and plants. I am constantly pulling out the Merlin app for bird identification or Google lens for the plants. The mammals are fewer in number and easier to identify. 

The first bird we encountered was the Australian Ibis.

We were surprised to see this exotic looking bird in the city, that is until we learned the Australian nickname for it- the "bin chicken " where bin is referring to the garbage bin! As you can tell by the name, Australians, as a rule, are less fond of them as they have taken over the cities and are noisy, smelly, and poopy. I still think they are pretty cool. 

Our next delightful find was the Cockatoo.

Slightly more popular than the bin chickens, but they are also seen as noisy (they are) and destructive.  We didn't witness the destruction,  but apparently they can gather in gangs of a hundred or so, and attack trees, decks and houses. That would be a sight to see!

Cute Cockatoo pair!

So many of the birds seem familiar, or almost familiar, and yet when I look them up, they have a different name than what I was expecting. Often the names include some form of "Australia " in them (Australian Ibis, Australian Pelican)

The pelicans here are considerably larger than those in the US. The Australian variety stand nearly 5 feet tall and can have a wingspan of over 8 feet.

The most amazing bird that we saw, but were not able to get a picture of was the lyrebird. 

This picture is borrowed from Wikipedia. We saw a lyrebird as we were hiking in The Grand Canyon, in the Blue Mountains of Australia.  Bob was in front, and stopped suddenly.  Right in front of him was a lyrebird, but unfortunately it was gone by the time I had pulled out my camera.

Some birds were fun to identify just because their name was fun.

One of my favorites name-wise is the Noisy Miner. They are not very shy when it comes to the possibility of dropped food.

We have seen so many new birds, and heard many more. Some of the heard, but not seen, birds we have been able to identify such as the Eastern Whip bird whose call from the male sounds just like a cracking whip, usually followed by a quick "tu tu" sound such that people often think it is just one bird calling.

And no story about birds in Australia would be complete without the Australian magpie (not related to the European or North American Magpies).

These birds are very loud, striking in their appearance and quite fearless.

They are particularly aggressive during peak breeding season (August to November) defending their nests, chicks and surrounding territories by swooping down on anything and anyone they deem a threat.

I'm keeping my eye on you, don't mess with me!

Next up (probably)  the mammals. 

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