Case Study: Confused Kookaburras
In 2008, Birds in Backyards was contacted by a member, Shane Arnfield, who noticed something strange going on in the bird community visiting his garden in Queensland. A pair of Pale-headed Rosellas had been successfully raising chicks in a natural hollow in his garden for the past few years, however, a pair of Laughing Kookaburras were also in the garden and constantly approaching the nest hollow. Given they will eat chicks, Shane assumed that they were trying to prey upon the rosella chicks however, season after season, the young rosellas left the hollow unharmed.
Shane installed a camera at the hollow to get a closer look at what was going on at the hollow and found that the kookaburras were bringing food to the rosella chicks - mice, frogs, lizards and all sorts of goodies a baby kookaburra might like, but that a rosella chick does not find very appetizing! Unfortunately the kookaburras were getting aggressive towards the rosella parents and so a solution needed to be found.
Given the behaviour displayed by the kookaburras, and the lack of other hollows around, we sent Shane the dimensions needed to make a kookaburra nest box. Within a few short weeks the kookburras had discovered the nest box and moved in. Shortly after that they had laid their eggs, 4 in total. Mysteriously the eggs disappeared one by one and over the next year the kookaburras went back to trying to feed rosella chicks.
Finally, in October 2010 the kookaburras returned to their nest box and 4 eggs were laid. Finally, 3 chicks were successfully fledged!
Whilst it is a very unusual story, it shows just how important the resources we can provide for birds can be. In this case, a simple nest box lead to a very successful outcome for the birds in Shane's backyard.
Unfortunatley once again things have not gone smoothly for the Kookaburras in 2012. The male seems to have disappeared however the female and one of the juveniles is still in the area. Hopefully she can find a new mate for the 2013 breeding season.
A big thankyou for Shane for sharing his story and these videos with Birds in Backyards. You can see more on Shane's website.
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