For the last few weeks Heather and I have been observing with great interest the activities of a pair of Kookaburras. Normally this pair nest in a hollow of a large Candle Bark Gum (E. rubida) which we call the Hotel, on account of the many hollows it contains and the variety of fauna that use these spaces as nest sites. We have seen at least two generations of fledgling kookaburras leave this site successfully.
One afternoon in late August, we were surprised to see the Kookaburras checking out every small hollow in the pin oaks and claret ash in our backyard. We wondered what had occurred and on checking, found that Long Billed Corellas had taken over the nest hollow of the luckless Kookaburras. We have noticed that the Long Billed and Short Billed Corellas have moved in to our locale in increasing numbers since the 2009 bushfires.
Watching the Kookaburras searching for a new site, we decided to put up a nest box that might suit them. We found they ignored this and chose instead a possum box which we had thought would be too deep for them to use. However this box had been used by the Indian Myna the previous season before they were evicted. Their nest material had filled the possum box with rubbish having the effect of halving the depth.
It wasn’t long before the Kookaburra pair were observed mating and about a week later (on the 10th of September) the first egg was laid. By the end of a week three eggs comprised the clutch. In the second week we noticed one egg with a dimple caused by a wayward claw. This was soon enough jettisoned from the nest box as unviable.
The birds proceeded to incubate and 2 checks hatched between 7th and 9th of October. With feed ranging from starling and myna chicks through to mice and skinks and some balls of premium mince, the chicks grew rapidly. They finally left the nest box on the 6th of November.
The parents appeared to coax them out of the box by decreasing the feeding visits and cackling from a nearby branch to let the young know they had some enticing morsel for them.
Since leaving the nest, the parents have picked up the pace of the feeding routine and encouraged the chicks to follow them to various hunting posts. For the last few weeks we have been woken at around 5:30 most mornings as the parents alert the chicks that they have arrived with breakfast. We’ll have that for a few more weeks to about mid December until the chicks can fend entirely for themselves.
I’d take the sound of the Australian bush any day over the crowing of a rooster in the false dawn.