Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Once Upon A Time in the Land Down Under - Kookaburra

We saw this handsome chap when we were having a picnic at Kurnell. Mama warned me not to get too close to this bird of prey. It has a penchant for eating the young of other birds or animals. Eeeuww...I don't want to be its lunch or dinner.

Long, long ago, only the moon and stars lit the Earth. No one had ever felt the warmth or seen the light of the sun.
The spirits who lived in the sky looked down on all the birds and beasts, and they were concerned that the creatures were not happy. One day a generous spirit decided the world needed more light, and so this spirit gathered others, and together they collected wood, and this they began to stack, higher and higher and higher. When the wood was stacked so high they could no longer see the top, they decided to light a fire.
"The creatures of the Earth will delight in our light," the spirits said, "but we must announce its arrival."
The spirits sent a star out into the sky the first morning star and instructed it to announce the arrival of the light that would soon warm the world.
The star shimmered and sparkled, but few noticed it there in the dimly lit sky, and when the birds and beasts first saw the light of the great fire, they were shocked. Soon, though, they began to delight in its warmth, but seldom did they notice that tiny morning star.
The spirits decided they must find another way to announce the dawn.
"We'll need a noise," one of the spirits said.
"Yes, something loud. Something unusual, something startling," the others agreed.
Time passed, and the morning star shone more brightly, but still many creatures did not notice the star and were startled by the sudden light of the great fire.
Then one day, just after the morning star began to shine, the spirits heard a most amazing sound. Kookaburra peered down at the ground and spied a mouse. He launched himself from his perch in the treetops, and when he had conquered his prey, he began to laugh. He laughed like no creature in the world laughed.
When the spirits heard that sound, they knew that Kookaburra must become the world's morning trumpeter.
That very night the spirits visited Kookaburra in his home inside the gum tree.
"Kookaburra," they said, "every day, just as the morning star begins to fade, you will laugh as loudly as you can. It is your laughter that will wake all the sleepers before our fire lights the sky."
Kookaburra laughed when he heard this. "What if I say no?" he asked.
"If you say no, we will send no more light to the Earth. All the creatures will again live in the darkness."
Kookaburra realized that he could become a hero, and oh, how he would love to be important and respected. "I'll take the job," he said, and the very next day, just as the morning star began to fade, Kookaburra looked up at the sky and began to laugh, "Garooagarooagarooga ..."
When the spirits heard that sound, they lit their fire, and slowly the Earth below began to glow. The warmth seeped down slowly, building as the fire blazed higher and higher.
Many years passed, and every morning Kookaburra laughed loudly, and every morning the spirits lit the fire to warm the Earth below.
When the Creator brought people into the world, the spirits instructed them. "You must never tease Kookaburra," they said. The elders instructed their children: "If Kookaburra hears you making fun of him, he will never laugh again. Then we will no longer have light or warmth."
So all the people learned, just as the beasts and birds had learned, that Kookaburra must be respected, and to this day he prepares all the people to greet the dawn. The aborigines also believed that any child who insulted a kookaburra would grow an extra slanting tooth.

Angelina's notes:
Kookaburras, known as the Laughing Jackasses of Australia, are from the family Kingfishers. Similar to other kingfishers, Kookaburras have a stout and compact body, short neck, rather long and pointed bill and short legs.
Kookaburras are 17 inches in height, the upper parts dark brown, the wings spotted grey-blue. A white band separates the head from the body. There is a dark stripe through the eye, and the under parts are white. The strong bill is black.
The Kookaburra's rolling, laughing call is one of the best-known sounds in the animal world. The birds raise a wild chorus of crazy laughter as they go to roost in the treetops at dusk, and again wake everyone within hearing just as dawn breaks, so regularly that in the hinterlands of Australia they are know as the "bushman's clock."
Australians value the Kookaburra, not only as an intriguing member of the strange fauna, but for its habit of feeding on snakes and lizards. The Kookaburra seizes snakes behind the head and kills them by dropping them from a height, or else carries them to a perch and batters them senseless with its big bill before swallowing them.
Less welcome is the Kookaburra's fondness for the young of other birds, and its occasional raids on farmyards for ducklings and baby chicks.
Whoa! A vicious murderer, this Kookaburra. 
There's a nursery rhyme inspired by the bird as well. Hey! It's a popular murderer, eh? I'm too lazy to download the YouTube thingy but have copied the lyrics. So you can sing if you know the melody. purrr....meow!
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree 
Merry, merry king of the bush is he 
Laugh kookaburra, laugh 
Kookaburra, gay your life must be 
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree 
Eating all the gumdrops that he can see 
Stop, kookaburra, stop 
Kookaburra, leave some there for me 
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree 
Chasing all the monkeys he can see 
Stop, kookaburra, stop 
Kookaburra, that's not a monkey, that's me!


Pat said...

Oh I remember that song!!! We used to sing in a round, and usually on a bus when when we were on a school trip. Nice memories there!

An excellent shot of that bird!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Pat,
Memories.....light the corners of my mind....ooh dear...am in a singing mode now. purrr....meow!

Cassini said...

I remember the song! Thanks for the full text.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

We sang the Kookaburra song in kindergarten! For a good few years, I thought the lyrics said "blue gum" tree. Yes, I was interested in trees and plants even back then!

I love the folktale! I can imagine how startling Kookaburra's laugh must have sounded the first time!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Hie Cassini! Welcome to my crazy world. Now, let's sing together. purrrr.....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Actually, to a cat, the kookaburra laugh is eerie...kinda threatening. It's not that big a bird actually. Just that Mama has a good zoom lens. purrrr....meow!

TK said...

I hafal lagu tu tau but I never knew how does kookabura looks like. Hari ni baru nampak the bird for the first time. Cantik ekor dia.

=^..^= said...

The kookaburra sounds scary... well, for baby birds and snakes definitely! We hope they leave us kitties alone.

~Slash & Bronzy

Sandy said...

Kookaburras are the best ! I love the way they laugh ^^ I never knew that they're predators

Cat-from-Sydney said...

TK Sensei,
Cantik ekor tapi jahat! hehehe.... purrrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Slash & Bronzy,
Lucky we have claws and fangs! But we must protect the hapless kittens from kookaburras. purrrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Tante Sandy,
I am Angelina....the myth buster. I don't like them. They're too loud. purrr....meow!

Lady of Leisure said...

mcm ni rupanya kookabura hehe comel tapi notty yer.. angelina n brad, kalau arri n molly nampak birds kenapa dorang slalu cakap keh keh keh keh keh!! and vibrate at the same time hehe..

tireless mom said...

I think I learnt that song during my younger days. The name Kookaburra really brings some wonderful memories and I like how it sounds too....kooka burra kooka burra kooka burra.. meowww

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Lady of Leisure,
That's because Arri & Molly were excited - hunters seeing their preys..... I do that too. purrrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Yatt,
What? You heard the kookaburra meowed? purrrr....meow!

Clooney said...

Angie, please tell Brad theese is an excellent idea about Oceans and 3D! Let's do it! And Angie, my Human saw and heard the Kookaburra when she spent time in Australia last year. She told me that if I like birdies, theese one would keep me entertained, that's for sure!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Hey Cloon,
You used to have Julia and Charlize in Oceans. So, this time for the 3D, must have me in it, OK? Brad says he's OK with the idea. He wants people to appreciate his pawesomeness, he said.
Your mum thinks kookaburra is entertaining? Beware! You could be his food. purrrr....meow!

Rosmawati Yusof said...

Hi Angelina, Apa khabar? Semuga sehat dan ceria selalu...

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Rosmawati,
Saya sentiasa sihat dan ceria. Kecuali masa marahlah.....purrr....meow!

Unknown said...

Used to sing the Kookaboora song during our Girl Guide camping days!

Ohhh... how it brings back memories!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Ahan,
You can still sing it when you go camping now. purrr...meow!