Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The kookaburra and the doggie

I haven't told you about my pets. For the past two months, I've had two pets: a magpie-lark and a butcherbird. At first, the magpie-lark would come around our yard to peck for insects because we've got a big space and no cats. Sometimes I would feed her when I saw her out there. Eventually, she made the connection and started calling me when she was there. She lands on our outdoor table and calls me twice, and then she waits for the food. A butcherbird sat in the jacaranda and watched this with interest for about two weeks before he was sure, and then he started doing the same once she was done. They have been my little wild pets since mid-November.

This is Maggie (my magpie-lark friend), photo taken today. She has two feet, but one is damaged and hurts her. I think this is why she likes the easy food at our house. I wasn't able to photograph the butcherbird, because he was avoiding a third new pet who arrived this weekend: a kookaburra.
Kookaburras are members of the kingfisher family, and they are large birds. They are very pretty and VERY loud. They are also quite bold. This morning, this kookaburra was very interested in my breakfast. He was pacing. He flew from our swing to the ground to the roof to the yard and finally to a perch not far from the table. I took the hint and tossed him some of my scrambled eggs, which he went for with gusto.

Later this morning, we had friends over for playtime, swimming and lunch. As I cleaned up outside after they left, I noticed he was back, nibbling up the dropped goodies (pasta and bits of breadstick). While I was inside rinsing dishes, I heard a whoosh of heavy wings and knew he'd gotten on the table. I rushed outside in time to catch his retreat to the swing...with one of Baby Stephanie's favorite toy doggies in his beak. I did what any mama would have done. I marched right outside with one hand on my hip, the other raised and pointing at the bird, saying, "Hey, you cheeky bird! That does not belong to you! You drop it right now!" etc. I seriously wish I had a video of this for you (and for myself; how crazy was that?). And he responded as any bird would have done. He flew away. Across the yard, across the neighbor's yard, and over the large house two yards away. D*** IT!

I was only thankful Stephanie hadn't seen it.
Then, I manically raced around, clearing up all other small toys and anything else I thought he might grab, all the while my inner monologue is running: Dang bird! Can't believe he STOLE that toy! It's relatively big and heavy. He's gonna drop it somewhere and what will happen when Stephanie misses it...grumble grumble grumble...

Several minutes later, I was sitting with the girls in the living room when I heard a loud BANG from outside. I knew it must be him, and I raced out to see what the heck he'd done now...only, there was no sign of him. What was that noise? I slowly began my investigation, carefully stepping along the length of the table, trying to figure out what could have generated that sound...and then I spied the doggie on the patio. As I picked it up, amazed, I looked up and spied the kookaburra directly above me, watching. HE BROUGHT IT BACK.

I am stunned.
I thanked him.

This is the doggie. Stephanie doesn't know about his little adventure today. I certainly won't forget it anytime soon.


schlelly said...

FANTASTIC STORY!! I'm so happy Stephanie's doggie made it back from his journey! What an amazingly intelligent bird. I remember studying birds in animal behavior. We saw a video where one bird made the noise of a camera shutter because so many photographers had photographed him as a chick. Then there were crows who used a cross walk to drop their nuts in and cars crushed the shells as they passed and then the birds would swoop and get the cracked nut when the walk light came on. WOW.

ps. I love Kingfisher beer.

Karly said...

What a great story! I'm so glad that Stephanie's doggie is safe and sound now where he belongs :-)

Anonymous said...

This is such a delightful story! And the photographs are wonderful as well. You certainly have beautiful friends!