Kookaburra - Wildlife Australia
He who laughs last, laughs longest and in the case of the Kookaburra it's true.
A Kookaburra also laughs the loudest - but without the kookaburra our days would surely be tinged with drabness and how would we know that the morning had broken?
In the Dreamtime, when Googoorgaga the kookaburra laughed, it was a signal to the Sky Spirits to light the great fire of the sun in the morning, and the signal to put it out again at night.
A kookaburra can live for 20 years
Why does a Kookaburra laugh?
The unmistakeable call of the kookaburra
Kookaburras have an unmistakable boisterous call, usually sung in chorus, that sounds uncannily like loud, human laughter, a sort of good-natured, yet bordering on the hysterical, laugh.
They laugh to mark the boundaries of their territory, then wait to hear the replies of neighbouring groups.
The Kookaburra also laughs to greet its mate after periods of absences. You can hear him any time, but most commonly just as dawn breaks, and at the moment when dusk drains the the colour from the sky.
The call of the kookaburra is loud, rough and raucous. Believe me, some mornings at 5.00 am I wish they would find another place to live!
In the evenings it's a pleasing noise, everyone is packing off to go home for the night and the birds are settling down until sunrise gets them up and at it again.
One Kookaburra starts and they all join in
One bird will start with a low chuckle, then others will join in. One bird will throw back his head and laugh in a frenzied peal and then the whole mob joins in.
Visitors, on first hearing the wild chorus of crazed laughter, are often startled and anxious. I'm used to hearing the kookaburras but sometimes I don't notice one is near and the mad laughter makes me jump, it's so very loud.
The Bushman's Clock
Kookaburras wake you in the morning
As kookaburras wake everyone within earshot at dawn, they are sometimes called the bushman's clock but you hear them in the suburbs too.
In the mornings, just as the sun starts to show, their noisy greetings wake me. Many a time I've been awakened by this 'bushman's clock' before my mechanical alarm kicks in. At times this can be a blessing. At times.
Kookaburras don't just live in scrub or in the Bush. They are found in city parks, along the banks of creeks and rivers and in fact anywhere which can provide some shelter and food. When I turn over my inner-urban garden, at least one kooka will stand near me, his head on the side, waiting to see what my trowel will bring up for his breakfast.
Kookaburras for Kids
The Kookaburra Story from the Dreamtime
How Googoorgaga saved the light for the world
For a long time there was no sun, only a moon and stars. That was before there were people on the earth, only birds and beasts.
One day Dinewan the Emu and Brolga the Crane were on a large plain near the Murrumbidgee. The two of them began quarreling, shouting and hitting each other.
Brolga, in her rage, rushed to the nest of Dinewan and seized from it one of the huge eggs, which she threw with all her force up to the sky and there it broke on a heap of firewood
The firewood burst into flame from the yellow yolk and lit up the world below. Not one creature had ever seen this light before!.
A Good Spirit saw the Fire
A good Spirit who lived in the sky saw how bright and beautiful the earth looked when lit up by this blaze. The Spirit thought it would be a good thing to make a fire every day, and from that time since it has been done.
All night the Spirit, in the company of other Spirits, collect wood and heap it up. When the heap is nearly big enough the morning star is sent out to warn those on earth that the fire will soon be lit.
Who can make the noise at Dawn?
The Spirits, however, found this warning was not sufficient, for many were sleeping when the morning star came along.
So the Spirits thought someone should make some noise at dawn to herald the coming of the sun and waken the sleepers. But for a long time they couldn't decide who should be the one to do it.
At last one evening they heard the laughter of Googoorgaga, the kookaburra, ringing through the air.
"There - that is the noise we want," said the Spirits.
Googoorgaga, the Kookaburra
Googoorgaga saved the light for the world
So the Spirits told Googoorgaga that, as the morning star faded and the day dawned, he was every morning to laugh his loudest, so that his laughter might awaken all sleepers before sunrise.
If he wouldn't agree to do this, then no more would they light the sun-fire, but let the earth be dark again for always.
But Googoorgaga saved the light for the world!
He would laugh his loudest at every dawn of every day, and so he has done ever since, making the air ring with his loud cackling, "Googoor gaga, googoor gaga, googoor gaga."
It's been suggested that the Australian style of speech, even our alleged 'accent', is influenced by being exposed to this boisterous bird since birth
Get your own Kookaburra!
This merry little fellow comes with a "Toys that Teach" tag describing in detail his habitat, lifestyle, how he cares for the young and his eating habits.
Googoorgaga must NOT stop laughing!
Children are never allowed to imitate the laughter of Googoorgaga, lest he should hear them and cease his morning cry.
If children do laugh as he does, an extra tooth grows above their eye-tooth, so that they carry the mark of their mockery in punishment.
If ever a time comes when Googoorgaga stops laughing, then no more dawns will be seen, and all will be dark again.
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!
The Kookaburra Song - Sung from China to Chicago
In a quick search of youtube, the Kookaburra Song turns up from China to Chicago. This version is by children at the Pickerington Elementary School. I have no idea where in the world Pickerington is but it's obviously not in Australia.
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Have you ever heard a kookaburra laugh?
What do you think of the Call of the Kookaburra
Each and every comment is appreciated. You don't have to be a kookaburra to post yours
© 2008 Susanna Duffy