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.
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.