Yesterday, this fine kookaburra was sitting on the street sign beside our place, scanning the vacant lot next door for signs of life, probably hunting the small lizards called skinks that seem to emerge in numbers every time the sunshine is strong enough to warm the ground. I was able to stand quite close without disturbing it, although I had to shoot against the bright sky so the photos are not as distinct as I'd hoped. This particular bird was too intent on food to be laughing, but we often hear them chuckling in chorus among the surrounding eucalypts in the early morning and evening. Is it my imagination that they are more vocal whenever the weather is threatening rain?
The laughing kookaburra (Dacelo gigas) is Australia's largest kingfisher and one of the largest of its species in the world. My bird book gives a plethora of common names for it, including Breakfastbird, Bushman's Clock, Jack, Jackass, Jacko, Jacky, John, Johnny, Kooka, and Ha Ha Pigeon.
For my North American botanist friends, yes, those are Monterey pines in the background. They are quite a feature of the Blue Mountains, attracting sulphur-crested cockatoos who love tearing the cones apart. Some humans, however, dislike them for their habit of shedding needles into eavestroughs, clogging the downpipes and creating a fire hazard in this area of frequent bushfires.