Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The last laugh.

Following on from that other dangerous bird the emu, I give you the Laughing Jackass or Kookaburra. This bird is a first class hunter and his favourite foods are bugs, lizards and wait for it...snakes (we will come to those later)!
It is a sight to gladden the heart of the average herp-ophobe (is there such a word?) to see one of these guys dispatching a snake with a deft flick of that murderous looking beak. Apart from their diet they are known for their raucous laughing call which can go on for quite a long time mostly at sunset or sun-up. They famously live in families with many uncles and aunts helping to raise the voracious young so their dawn and dusk chorus can be the combined voices of several individuals. I love the sound of their laughter, it always makes you smile no matter how down in the dumps you are. Lucky for us, a family of Kookaburras  have made the park across the road from us their headquarters this winter.

The Kookaburra is actually a type of kingfisher and sports the characteristic flash of iridescent peacock blue feathers on the wing.

A favourite nursey rhyme and 'round' sung by  Australian children is "Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, mighty king of the bush is he, laugh kookaburra, laugh kookaburra, etc," (copyright held in the US by Larrikin music) was the subject of a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement by the band Men at Work in their 1981 song "Down Under". The song was the theme song for our (successful) bid for the America's  Cup yacht race. Larrikin was subsequently awarded damages as the judge deemed that the flute riff in the song was plagiarized perhaps unwittingly, we like to think , by the composer Colin Hay.
So, the kookaburra did get the last laugh!


  1. Charming and Educational! Although she wasn't Australian, my mother used to sing us the Kookaburra song when we were little, as one of the many bedtime songs we used to beg her to sing. The song has a permanent place in my heart&mind, and brings back happy memories.

  2. Your Mum sounds as if she were a lovely lady.

  3. Well thanks for thee inforrmative bit with your lovely Artwork! I came across an antique cigarette label in a museum exhibit with a laughing jackass on it. Now i know what it is!