Animal Diaries Archive
25 August 2006
Prior to working at Australia Zoo, I’d had very little to do with any kind of bird and would never have considered them to be favourites of mine. However, as a member of the Wandering Wildlife team I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to become acquainted with some of the Zoo’s favourite feathered friends – and a fan I am fast becoming.
You may remember me introducing you to Anthony (Anthony’s Antics – April 2005), Lady (Licenced for Lady – February 2006) and Chloe (Remembering a Friend – June 2006). These Sulphur-crested Cockatoos are parrots with serious personality. They are intelligent, cheeky and an absolute delight to work with. Recently, though, I have ventured out and about into the Zoo with a different bird – Tik, the Laughing Kookaburra.
Being birds of prey, kookaburras run less on personality and more on instinct. This has many implications for roving. Firstly, acquiring a ‘licence’ to rove Tik was a much quicker process. I didn’t have to spend months, and sometimes years, bonding with him until he decided he liked me – a compulsory condition of roving demanded by the parrots. Secondly, Tik is much ‘lower maintenance’ than the cockatoos. On a rove, Lady will constantly try to impress me with lots of kisses and wings up in the hope of securing a sunflower seed while Anthony repeatedly reminds me that he is to be the centre of attention and lengthy talk to patrons (on topics other than himself) is not permitted. Tik, on the other hand, just sits there quietly, taking it all in. Tik may not show the same affection or have such an obvious personality, but he is no less endearing and I am certainly proud to rove this little Aussie icon.
Without a doubt kookaburras (an Aboriginal name for the largest member of the kingfisher family) are among Australia’s best loved and most easily recognized birds. Tik is definitely a crowd favourite and nothing pleases the crowd more than when he calls in response to the territorial call of our wild kookaburras. The famous kookaburra laugh is a unique call, strongly resembling the sound of human laughter, and an unmistakable, distinctly Australian, sound of the bush. Aboriginal legend says that the kookaburra's laugh is a signal to the sky spirits telling them when to light the great fire which brings daylight and warmth to the earth and also when to put it out. It is probably because of the kookaburra’s dawn and dusk calls that they are often colloquially referred to as ‘the bushman’s alarm clock’.
Tik is a lovable kookaburra and it is an honour for me to share him with our visitors. So next time you visit the Zoo, don’t be afraid to come up, say hello and have your photo taken with this true blue little Aussie.
Our Amazing Laughing Kookaburras
According to an Aboriginal legend, the kookaburra's famous chorus of laughter every morning is a signal for the sky people to light the great fire that illumina ...more
On display in the Crocoseum