October 02, 2004


Today I observed a kookaburra. Here are my exclusive modality findings:

Mode One: Inertia. The kookaburra just sits there like an idiot. Do something, kookaburra!

Mode Two: Intense social engagement. The kookaburra notices and reacts to visual and aural stimulus, including other birds, music, and me offering it a plate of meat chunks.

Mode Three: Pointy attack stance = imminent gecko murder. The kookaburra tenses itself into chunky arrow form, aimed at the target lizard.

Mode Four: Operation Death Smash. The kookaburra impacts leafy undergrowth and returns to its perch with a gecko in its beak.

Mode Five: Like Mode One, but with gloating.

Posted by Tim Blair at October 2, 2004 08:15 PM

Funny stuff!
Keep 'em coming.

Posted by: Birkel at October 2, 2004 at 08:41 PM

Sounds like a well-designed state machine to me...

Posted by: Eric the .5b at October 2, 2004 at 09:24 PM

We've got two of the lazy sods who perch on our clothes-line all day, doing bugger all, except when we throw the dogs meat to them (dogs go nuts in reaction). They hang around all day, loafing in the shade and occasionally sending the noisy mynahs and honeyeaters into paroxyms of paranoid rage. They're my kind of birds.

Posted by: Travis Bickle at October 2, 2004 at 09:28 PM

Bet they don't sing that song in state schools anymore. You know the one that ends:
Laugh kookaburra, laugh kookaburra, gay your life must be.

Posted by: slatts at October 2, 2004 at 10:16 PM

Our oldest child, when he was a baby, loved that song!

My wife would sing it while she bathed him, changed his diapers, dressed him, etc., and any crying would stop instantly.

As a result, I love kookaburas and I've never even seen one live. Enjoy that gecko, friend!

Posted by: JDB at October 2, 2004 at 11:26 PM

Hee hee - that was a treat. I'm convinced kookaburras specifically laugh at me when I'm out jogging.

Posted by: C.L. at October 3, 2004 at 12:09 AM


Posted by: jlchydro at October 3, 2004 at 12:17 AM


Posted by: jlchydro at October 3, 2004 at 12:17 AM


I'm not a very patient person,Tim

Posted by: jlchydro at October 3, 2004 at 12:21 AM

jlchydro = has no conception of a Kookaburra? Gosh, I just love them to sit in the trees around my house & laugh. Hehe, also they are a great looking bird... *sigh*
Now I live in a town & run the ALP pub, omg, how far removed from my pure Kookaburra loving lifestyle of yore.....!!

Posted by: Steve at October 3, 2004 at 12:23 AM

I'm glad that other people remember that song. Seems a funny song to make it to the US from Australia (along with "Tie me Kangaroo Down Sport")

When I was in elementary school an Australian exchange student from the high school came to talk to the whole school about Australia. I remember her as radiantly beautiful. I noticed Tasmania was on the map so I gathered all my courage and asked her if there are really Tasmanian devils.

I was jeered by my fellow students but she said that there are Tasmanian devils. She seemed suprised that the whole class had heard of them. I guess the cartoons hadn't made it to Australia yet.

Posted by: John Davies at October 3, 2004 at 12:52 AM

jlchydro: "Point.....................???"

The point is the sheer wonderfulness of kookaburra. Nothing more is needed.

jlchydro: "I'm not a very patient person,Tim"

Get a tape of the song of the laughing jackass, and play it till you feel more relaxed.

Posted by: David Blue at October 3, 2004 at 01:50 AM

How fortunate you are, Tim. I've heard of kookaburras since I was a kid and always wanted to see one.

Around here, the only interesting bird is the red-tailed hawk who occasionally dines on the tidbits around my bird feeder. But she does keep the moles down.

Posted by: Rebecca at October 3, 2004 at 02:00 AM

Even cooler: this was a baby kookaburra, so it was still refining its attack dives. There was comical clumsiness.

But the pride when a gecko was taken! The little guy looked great. We were applauding from our kitchen vantage point.

Posted by: tim at October 3, 2004 at 02:10 AM

Hail all Kingfishers, winged death to all Geckos.

By the way, I'm ready for the election to be over, so I can move into Kookabura Mode Five my own damn self.

Posted by: Carl H. at October 3, 2004 at 04:04 AM

Flew into Cairns from the states for a long weekend before going down to Sydney on business.
Woke up really early (jet lag) the first day and decided to sit on the beach and watch the sun rise.

Sun rose....Kookaburra about 20 feet behind me "laughed" out loud.....ambulance came and revived me (not really, but I was much younger then).

Posted by: AlanC at October 3, 2004 at 05:56 AM

I just spent a few weeks in Wyoming along the Snake River on a project. During lunch, I'd watch the bald eagles (and some falcons) go fishing. It's an awesome sight when one of those eagles leaps off a branch, swoops to the water, and snags lunch.

Not as funny as a kookaburra, but surely as entertaining.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at October 3, 2004 at 06:22 AM

Accustomed as i am to be awoken by the laughs of our neighbouring kookas, i feared i would oversleep when staying the night at a friend's bordering london's battersea park.
Imagine my surprise, when the gurgling laghter could be heard coming from somewhere in Battersea Park.
We rushed out to the park and found a small zoo Within were a couple of forlorn caged kookas.

Posted by: davo at October 3, 2004 at 07:12 AM

"They've all got guns 'round here in Tassie," she said
"What for?" I queried.
"To shoot wildlife," she replied "... shot a kookaburra the other day, he was stealing chickens."
Never heard of it, I thought to myself as I gazed across the valley outside Port Arthur.
At least the locals were well prepared for the next mass murderer. Still, I didn't notice as many road signs blasted there as there are here in Victoria.

Posted by: running dog at October 3, 2004 at 09:15 AM

It's Grand Final day,Rugby League style in Sydney.I am about 2 hours from heading out to Telstra stadium to watch my team(another bird)the Roosters.I am hoping for a lot of number 2 heaps of number 3(bulldogs are similar to Gekkos) and at the end of the day we will all be doing mega of number 4.
Did I mention we are represented in all 3 grades?
Go the Roosters
jlchydro-I am sure Tim was just wishing my team good luck.That was the point,I'm sure.

Posted by: gubbaboy at October 3, 2004 at 11:59 AM

Sorry,lots, heaps,mega of 3 4 5.
I get confused with numbers.

Posted by: gubbaboy at October 3, 2004 at 12:02 PM

I like them because they're the Right Wing Death Beasts of the avian world; we have honeyeaters and painbow lorikeets (hippies), noisy mynahs (welfare families) and indian mynahs (illegal immigrants); the kookaburras sit on their arse all day and get fed by stupid humans (us), laugh at us and scare the shit out of all the other loser birds.
If there were bird cars, they wouldn't bother flying, they'd have little porsches with beer coolers in the back. As I said, my kind of bird.

Posted by: Habib at October 3, 2004 at 12:43 PM

Hey John Davies, did she show you her map of Tasmania? (Crude Aussie joke). You outdoor-loving Merrikuns would be impressed by the huge amount of road kill in Tassie: Devils, possums, wallabies, potaroos, goannas....Hillbilly smorgasbord.

Posted by: slatts at October 3, 2004 at 01:25 PM

Slatts, real Merricun Hillbilly road kill is porcupines, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and coyotes. We'un has possums too, must be an international thang.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at October 3, 2004 at 02:25 PM

Great post! I even dared to read it aloud to my wife, a bird watcher, who still thinks blogs are something dirty/naughty. Maybe you helped me gain blogs a few points in her book.

Or maybe not.

Posted by: equitus at October 3, 2004 at 05:40 PM

there's a couple of kookas near me who do a pre-dawn (4.30am) chucklefest EVERY MORNING WITHOUT FAIL! if i wasnt so sleepy and hungover at that time i'd go outside and deal with the bastards.

Posted by: rosceo at October 3, 2004 at 06:26 PM

oh yeah, in my opinion the most 'stout' aussie bird is the butcher bird. the plain maggie comes a close second.

Posted by: rosceo at October 3, 2004 at 06:32 PM

We've got butcher birds and magpies, which we feed (the BBs fly through our house), but they're shit-scared of the Kookies. I suppose I'd be a bit leery if a mutant kingfisher turned up, muscled in on my free food and occasionally ate my children.

Posted by: Habib at October 3, 2004 at 10:02 PM

A woik of at.

Posted by: ForNow at October 4, 2004 at 06:54 AM

Living 60k out of Brisbane at Purga, plenty of the little friends on our property. They truly are the epitome of the bush and to hear 6-12 laughing at 4.30am is a wonderful start to every day, just like this morning.

Them, and the wallabies (cheeky bastards knock off our horses hay) give me lots to be grateful for.

"Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, merry merry king of the bush is he."

Posted by: Lofty at October 4, 2004 at 09:05 AM

Sounds like my heron-watching experience. I went to this park in Orlando about a year ago and observed a big white heron fishing. Technique: Stare intently for ages at the water. Then: sudden death stab! Next think I knew the heron had a huge fish (compared to the heron, about a third of its size) speared on its beak. Then it tossed the fish in the air, caught it in its beak, and gulped it down whole.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at October 5, 2004 at 01:50 AM