Kookaburra

Last updated: January 24, 2013

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kookaburra standing on a post

Biology

There are two types of Kookaburra in Australia, belonging to the kingfisher family Alcedinidae. They are the Laughing and the Blue winged kookaburras.

How can I help them to breed?

Kookaburras nest in hollows, building nests in termite mounds or baobab trees. They make a hollow in a termite mound by continually hitting it with their strong beaks. They fly directly at the same place on a termite mound until a hole is made and a nesting space fashioned. The termites rebuild the mound after the kookaburras have left.

To avoid common conflict…

Windows

“There is a kookaburra continually hitting my glass window, It’s driving me mad! What can I do?”

There can be several reasons for this:

  1. The reflection in the glass window appears as a termite mound or
  2. The reflection in the glass appears as another kookaburra, a challenger and the kookaburra is trying to drive him away.

Recommendation:

The reflection in the window needs to be altered:

  • Draw the blinds on the inside,
  • Add blinds or shutters to the outside,
  • Move a potted plant(s) in front of the window,
  • Hang a sheet or, o Stick newspapers to the window.
  • Use a decal WindowAlert product www.windowalert.com this product helps birds to see the glass without being obtrusive to the human eye.
  • Hang a silhouette of a bird of prey (eagle). link to activity – bird of prey mobile.

Window hitting behaviour is usually associated with the beginning of breeding season which occurs September to January. Once eggs hatch, until chick independence the kookaburras should be way too busy to continue with these behaviours.

“Birds hit my glass panes with force, sometimes killing themselves. What can I do to prevent this?” Your glass panel, window or fence is in a flight path. The birds can’t see the glass and think they can fly through it as they have done for probably many years before.

Recommendation

The window needs to appear solid.

  • Add tints drawing the blinds on the inside,
  • Add blinds or shutters to the outside,
  • Move a potted plant(s) in front of the window,
  • Hang a sheet,
  • Stick newspapers to the window.
  • Use a decal WindowAlert product www.windowalert.com this product helps birds to see the glass without being obtrusive to the human eye,
  • Hang a silhouette of a bird of prey (eagle), and
  • Alter the fence design – particularly pool fencing.

Pools

“I found a kookaburra in the pool filter”.

Birds often drink on the wing and with kookaburras (kingfishers) they also like to fish. Sometimes they miscalculate and get wet and have to swim / flap to get out of the water. In pools there is a solid side (wall) and often an overhang. These prevent them from getting out of the pool. In a lake, river or dam they would be able to get out on the slope of the bank.

Recommendation

  • Cover your pool,
  • Place animal exit point(s) in your pool in the event of an accident (link to activity ‘build a ramp for your pool’)
  • Check regularly

Vehicle collisions

  • Be wildlife aware when driving,
  • Be even more observant at dusk and dawn,
  • Keep to the speed limit and the conditions of the road,
  • if you are a passenger, don’t distract the driver,
  • If you see an animal on the road don’t assume it will be able to get out of the way in time. Lift your foot off the accelerator, apply brake,
  • Rest, Revive, Survive, and
  • In the event of a collision stop for injured wildlife and take the animal to the nearest vet.

Pesticides – Insecticides & Rodenticides

  • Next time you need to spray insecticides – lawn grubs, cockroaches, spiders, consider the wildlife that might eat the poisoned insects that evacuate your home to die.
  • Choose environmentally friendly garden sprays or other alternatives avoiding the use of poisons.
  • As with insecticides avoid the use of rodenticides wherever possible. Dying mice / rats become easy prey for kookaburras and other predators who then in turn can be poisoned.

Emergencies

In an emergency if you come across any animal that is sick or injured call 1300animal, contain the animal, put it in a box in a warm, dark, quiet place.

Kookaburra Friendly Gardens

Establish an ecosystem that kookaburras can live and thrive in. Ensure there is a hollow of some sort in your backyard. Talk to your local nursery about vegetation to attract native birds.

Feeding issues

As a general rule, don’t feed wildlife. Mince can stick in the top of a Kookaburra’s beak – don’t feed mince.

If you insist,

  • Offer clean water to drink and to bathe in and clean daily.
  • Offer very small quantities of fresh beef strips with added calcium carbonate and thiamine (vit B1), clean the feeding station daily.
  • Never feed from your hand – this increases dangerous situations where the normal flight fright distance is reduced, this can be dangerous to both animals and people.

Efforts to rehabilitate injured Kookaburras

Kookaburras are very territorial and will kill some intruders;

  • Generally adult animals need to be returned to their place of origin within 2 weeks in breeding season, 3 weeks out of breeding season as a hard release option.
  • After two weeks soft release option is preferred and requires much more effort (at least 3 weeks at point of release before release) and indications that animals have been accepted by the group need to be observed.
  • Young adults can actually be adopted by another family using the soft release method.
  • Some post release monitoring has occurred enabling tracking of rehabilitated kookaburras in some states, such as Victoria. Radio transmitters are attached to the kookaburra in an effort to ensure its survival and that animal welfare is not compromised after they are released.

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