On the Fourth Day of Grub, your zoo gift will help to feed…Four Calling Birds (Kookaburras to be exact), Three Wild Dogs, Two Grizzly Bears, and Darwin the Cassowary! CLICK HERE to read them all!
Anyone who has watched a television show or movie filmed in a tropical location has undoubtedly heard the call of a Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaguineae). While these birds are only found in certain areas of Australia and New Zealand, the call of this bird has become synonymous with untamed wilds and is often added to the soundtrack to create a more “natural” feel. Less melodic but much more visually-striking, our Blue-winged Kookaburras (Dacelo leachii) are also favorites amongst our guests.
The call of a kookaburra may in fact be one of the most interesting things about these birds, with a great deal of myth associated with the vocalization. Aboriginal legend tells us that the Kookaburra is a messenger for the Earth, using a powerful call to alert the Earth of the lighting of the great fire in the sky. In actuality kookaburras will call for a variety of reasons (including territoriality and excitement), and these early morning calls are typically used to assert territorial boundaries. However, this myth does indicate the majesty of the call and the reverence it has inspired.
However, kookaburras have a great many other interesting attributes. While they may appear somewhat fluffy and cuddly, these birds are in fact accomplished predators. Kookaburras consume large food items by beating the prey against a rock or log to break down bones and make the food item easier to swallow.
At the Houston Zoo, our birds receive a wide variety of food items to keep them interested in their food and also ensure their nutritional well-being. Our birds eat mice, chicken chicks, anoles (small lizards), crickets, mealworms, smelt, walking sticks and a specialized ground meat diet to ensure optimum feather condition! In the course of a month, these four birds can eat:
- 50 Mice
- 50 Anoles
- 16 Chicken Chicks
A variety of insects are also readily accepted by these ravenous birds. Our Keepers at the Houston Zoo also perform regularly-scheduled feedings so that our guests can learn even more about these fascinating birds. Our Laughing Kookaburras and Blue-winged Kookaburras are on-exhibit daily at Birds of the World, a large outdoor area showing off some of our most interesting feathered residents!
Give the Gift of Grub this holiday season to help provide tasty meals for our Kookaburras and all of the animals at the Houston Zoo! Between now and December 31, TXU Energy has generously agreed to match all donations, up to $25,000 total, so your gift could go TWICE as far. That’ll give our birds something to call about.