Two Kookaburra Chicks

I thought I would start off 2018 with a happy story about Kookie, the kookaburra without tail feathers.   Looking back through my posts, I can see mentions of Kookie “the tailless Kookaburra” since late 2012, but we first really began to observe her in 2014.  Back then, we didn’t know if she was male or female.  Two years of attempted nesting have revealed her to be the one inside the nesting hollow, while her mate guarded the nest by dive-bombing our windows.  Unfortunately these efforts were in vain, and after many weeks, Kookie would emerge without chicks.

This year, Kookie and her mate chose a different tree, away from the house.  I was first alerted to this when walking through the bush up the back. The clear sound of baby birds calling floated down from the top of a tall eucalyptus tree.  At first, I had no idea of the species, but Richard and I took it in turns to observe the tree until the parents arrived.  We were delighted to find out it was a kookaburra nest and even more so when we realised it was Kookie’s nest.

On the first day it was out of the nest we worried that this chick had been abandoned. It sat like this all day.

Reading about Kookaburra breeding habits it seems they lay two to three eggs, two days apart.  The first chick emerged from the nest on 18th December.  It sat in a small tree beside our shed all day, looking bewildered and alone.  We only witnessed Kookie near her chick once, and hoped it had not been abandoned.  Thankfully, the next morning Kookie was obviously feeding it.  Perhaps the chick was not confident about flying on that first day. Day two saw Kookie and her chick move into the trees she frequented, near the house.  On day three there were definitely two kookaburra chicks calling for food.   We wondered if there would be a third one, but no, not this year.

The chicks tend to sit in different trees from each other, unless Kookie has food. She will call them with a short ‘laugh’ or cackling sound and both chicks fly to her. So far, her mate (Richard has dubbed him ‘Burra’ but I’m not so sure of this name yet) has not taken a lead in feeding the chicks.  We do hear other Kookaburras around, so perhaps he is taking the role of defending territory.

Neither of the chicks had tail feathers when we first saw them, so we wondered if feathers would grow.  They have. Both chicks now have a half-grown tail and appear to be well on the way to displaying beautiful striped tail feathers, like their father.

Each morning we wake to ‘feed me’ calls which, at this point, don’t sound anything like the adult call. They are loud and hoarse sounding, ‘Kaa’ and ‘Koo’ notes, slowed right down.  I’m told that it takes about three months for the chicks to perfect the classic kookaburra laugh, so it will be interesting to hear how they develop their sound.

These are the first Kookaburra chicks we’ve seen – on our place and also in the area – so I am sure there will be more posts and more photos as the birds grow. Richard and I are both besotted with them. The featured image for this post was taken on 2nd January, two weeks after the first chick emerged.

11 thoughts on “Two Kookaburra Chicks

  1. What a great photo of the two chicks together, as you say, they are often in separate trees unless being fed, so great capture! We’ve got a kookaburra chick around too, but this year there is only one, and it looks like one of the parents has lost its tail feathers. Maybe this happens when they sit in the nest. The chick has been out and about for a week now and we too hear the funny sounds it makes begging for food. I look forward to seeing more photos of your chicks growing up. 🙂

    1. Thanks Sue, It’s good to hear your description of a parent without tail feathers. Do they grow back? We have never seen Kookie with fully grown tail, Occasionally she has a couple of half grown feathers but these fall out really quickly and most of the year she looks as she does in the above photo. Thanks for leaving a comment. I often read your accounts of the wildlife which visits you. 🙂

      1. From what we can work out, the tail feathers do grow back but only after the chicks are full grown. When we started seeing the kookie without the tail feathers hanging around in the trees, we figured chicks would be making their appearance shortly, and they did. Maybe the adult loses its condition while looking after the babes and the tail feathers are the first to go.

  2. Enjoyed your tale, and your description of being besotted by the chicks and Kookie . It’s encouraging when you know that the little ones will make it – almost like your own satisfaction in their in the day to day accomplishments. Nature is really a marvel to observe…

    1. Thanks Liz. I haven’t written the post yet but one chick seems to have gone missing. Not sure what happened to it. The adult male is rarely seen too – not sure if it has gone off with Dad or something else. The other chick is well and healthy and visits daily with Kookie.

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