Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Laughter In Song

When I first began as a volunteer at World Bird Sanctuary, I was ecstatic at meeting all the unique and wonderful bird species up close, especially, the Sanctuary’s Laughing Kookaburra, Chadder. 
Chadder, the Kookaburra, sitting on his favorite branch
Previously, I had only known this member of the Kingfisher family through the old Aussie song, “Kookaburra” by Marion Sinclair, as many young children learned at summer camp or in the classroom.

During my weekend Keeper Talks, I ask the kids visiting with mom and dad if they’re familiar with the Aussie song, singing a few lines in the meantime to jog their memories.  Most of the time, the children nod excitedly and with bright smiles as I introduce them to Chadder.  And sometimes, as if on cue (but not always), Chadder will let loose the merry laugh in greeting for which his species is renowned.

While the Kookaburra’s call sounds merry and good-natured, it is actually a declaration of territory.  The individual Kookaburra will tell members of its family unit, ‘stay away this is my branch’ or an entire family unit will erupt in a noise hysterical chorus to warn away rival Kookaburra families from their tree.

The Laughing Kookaburra is perhaps the most well known of the four Australian Kookaburra species.  The other three species are: Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Spangled Kookaburra, and the Blue-winged Kookaburra.

Considering Kookaburras lived in a very small portion of the world--regions of Australia and New Guinea--they are known throughout the world because of the popular song, “Kookaburra” and for their unmistakable merry, hysterical call.

Be sure to visit the World Bird Sanctuary and say hello to Chadder, the Laughing Kookaburra!

Submitted by Jessica Bunke, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer

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