Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Five Fun Facts About Kookaburras

Last week I wrote 5 Fun Facts about Emus, as Emma the Eager Emu was the star of the first book launch last Saturday morning. This week, with one more book launch to go on Friday night, it is Kelly the Kookaburra’s turn to share some fascinating key facts about herself.
In last weeks post I mentioned that  emus like to steal food from unsuspecting picnickers and campers, which leads me to my first fascinating fact about kookaburras.DSCN0249
1. Did you know that Kookaburras are the largest member of the Kingfisher family? So you would expect them to eat fish, but they don’t. Kookaburras much prefer worms, insects, mice and even snakes and lizards. They particularly  like to dive from high in a nearby gum tree and swoop down to steal a sausage or two from your BBQ. (Maybe the sausages look a bit like a snake or lizard sizzling on the hot plate). Kookaburras don’t need to drink as they get all the water they need from their food.
2. Kookaburras live in native bushland all over Australia but also among our many coastal towns and cities. It is easy to see them regularly around your backyard especially if you frequently feed them a bit of raw mince meat by leaving the meat out in a bird feeder or on your verandah railing. They will get rather demanding though so don’t start this habit unless you are prepared to do it everyday. Note: Like most native wild birds it is best to let Kookaburras find their own food, not become reliant on people.
3. All throughout the Australian Bush you can hear kookaburras call out in the early morning or towards the evening. Their unusual call sounds more like a great big belly laugh as if something has really amused them, but they are not really laughing at all, they are actually telling other kookaburras that this is their territory.
4. Kookaburras live in families just like us. They mate for life and raise a family together, with the older siblings helping to raise the younger babies. Chicks are born blind and with absolutely no feathers which take a month to grow. (No wonder they need help from their older brothers and sisters.)
5. Most people see the common kookaburra around their homes, however further north and close to the coast is also the blue winged kookaburra aptly named for the colour in its wings. They are both 47 cm (18.5 inches) long and weigh about 0.5 kg (1 lb), interestingly that means a kookaburra weighs about as much as an emus egg!
Here is a link to a video you can watch and hear a kookaburra laugh.
Added Bonus
“Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree” is a well known old song that was taught as a round to kids in schools all over Australia for many years. Below is a link to a version of the original song being played in a round and a second link to the words of all the verses of the song (with a few extras that have been added over the years).

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Five Fun Facts About Emus

With my book launch almost here, for both “Emma the Eager Emu” and “Alien Shenanigans” meaning double the fun with double the books launched!
I thought it was time to have a fun look at a few fascinating facts about emus.  20150514_165618-1
My very first memory of an encounter with an actual live emu was when I was ten years old and I visited Symbio or what it was then called, Helensburgh Zoo, nestled in a quiet little town in the middle of Sydney’s Royal National Park. We were having a picnic lunch, (as you do) and I was happily eating my sandwhich, (most likely vegemite) when I turned away to look at a friendly hairy nose wombat that came wobbling towards me. Next thing I knew, an emu had snuck up from behind and stretched out its long neck and snatched my sandwhich from my grasp.
This leads me to fun fact no 1.
1. Emus love to steal food from unsuspecting picnicers and campers. If Emus are around when you are eating, keep an eye on your food at all times!
2. Emus have rather long necks and very sharp beaks which they can use to their advantage when sneaking up to steal your food.
3. Emus have big beady eyes, (all the better to see your food with). These eyes have two different eyelids. One is used for blinking just like you and me, the other is used to keep out the dust, and it gets very dusty in the Australian Outback.
4. An emus egg is enormous! They are very thick shelled, dark green and weigh about 1/2kg or 1lb. After the mother lays 7 or 8 eggs, it is actually the daddy who sits on them to keep them warm until they hatch.  20150514_164223-1The illustrated emu egg pictured here has been hand painted by an Indigenous Australian, beside it lays a chicken egg for you to compare their size.
5. The emu is the tallest bird in Australia, second only in the world to the Ostrich. An emu stands up to 2m tall or almost 6.5 feet, so her legs are very, very long! In fact she can run so fast, she has been said to “run the pants off a kangaroo!”
Below is the link to the Wiggles performing the classic song “Old Man Emu” who can “Run the pants off a kangaroo!” Love It hope you do too! :)
Old Man Emu by the Wiggles.
Don’t forget the book launches.
1. Paperchain Manuka (Canberra) 11:00 am Saturday 16th May 15
2. Shine Gifts Cullen Bay (Darwin) 5-9 pm, Friday 22nd May 15