The four kookaburras
WORDS SOFIA FORTUNATO
PHOTOS SAM PENGLASE
Meet the animal
Koo-koo-koo-koo-kaa-kaa-kaa. Laugh the kookaburra in the morning before the sun rises.
If you haven't ear a kookaburra before, the sound rather than a monkey -at least it does to me. But their call rather than a joyful laugh is a territorial call.
Laughing Kookaburras -Species name: Dacelo novaeguinea- are an iconic bird of Australia. It's native to the eucalyptus forest in eastern Australia but it has been introduced in Western Australia and New South Wales. They visit our garden nearly every day. Well, it's more like the garden is her territory and we are the intruders.
They belong to the Kingfisher family, being the largest representative. They can reach 45 cm in length and its beak can beak 10 cm long. With their beaks as a tool, they can eat a variety of food, such as snails, worms, insects and sometimes they even eat small snakes and baby chickens.
They can live for 20 years.
Did you know that the laughing kookaburra is the world's largest kingfisher? It's is still unclear why Australia has many large kingfishers and their evolutionary origins is still a mystery.
“I don’t remember,” she kept saying.
“Give me my handbag!” she demanded. The grandson returned it to her.
She held the dark fabric leather handbag with her shaky hands and tried to open it.
“Grandma, Do you need help? What do you need? Is the key inside?” Asked her Grandson worried.
“No!” she hugged it firmly while trying to open the zip. Her fingers shook.
You would never know she was once a great pianist. The Grandson tried to help her. He stretched his arms towards the handbag but Grandma turned to the side. The handbag tucked between her arms. She closed her wrinkly eyes and fell asleep.
The next day, Grandson came to visit his Grandma once more. Golden rays of sun shone through the window shining Granma's silver hair while she rested on her pillow.
“Aren’t the bottlebrush flowers the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?” she said with a sparkle in her eye like the sun on the sea.
“Yes Grandma, they are. Look, Grandma, there is a sunbird on it.” But she was already looking towards the brick wall on the other side of the room.
The Grandson held her cool, wrinkled hands and touched her face softly. “Grandma, you need to tell us where it is. We need to enter inside your house”
“The kookaburras, did you see them?” she said.
“Which kookaburras? The Grandson turned his head around towards the window.
"Grandma, there are no kookaburras in this room.” He informed.
“Where is my handbag?”
“It is next to you, Grandma.”
“There are four kookaburras in there. Would you grab feathers for me, son?”
“GRANDMA! There are no kookaburras neither outside the window nor in this room!” The Grandson sighed.
And once more Grandma turned to the side. The handbag tucked between her arms. She closed her wrinkly eyes and quickly fell asleep.
The next day the Grandson came back.
“Close the curtains son, I don’t want to see those noisy birds again.” Said grandma while rolling her body to the side. Between her arms, she held the black handbag.
The grandson sat next to her, and softly brush her hair with his fingers.
“Grandma, can I have your handbag please?” The grandson said softly. He tried not to sound desperate.
“My handbag, which handbag? It is by the tree with the paddle. Go this way.”
And once more Grandma turned to the side. The handbag tucked between her arms. She closed her wrinkly eyes and quickly fell asleep. Tears streamed down the Granson's face. The poor old lady's words didn’t make sense anymore.
"Can I please check your handbag?" The Grandson whispered softly in her ear.
Then he gently moved one arm and released the handbag from Grandma. He took it and searched inside.
“Son, would you please turn off the lamp? It hurts my eyes. Tell the kookaburras to stay away from it. They cannot have what is mine,” she said with a gruff.
She said and felt asleep.
“Yes Grandma, I will,” he sighed and continued searching inside the handbag.
There was red lipstick, a brush, and an antique mirror, a collection of kookaburra feathers inside a paper bag, there was a ball, for the old fluffy dog and two photographs. One old faded photo of his Grandpa. He wore only his blue bathing suit, a hat, and sunglasses. He held a hose while watering the lawn. The second photograph was more recent. The image had a tall eucalyptus tree. On the tree, there were four kookaburras standing on a branch. A paddle rested on the tree with a sign on it saying this way. At the back of the photograph, there was a note. The Grandson read it.
I decided to leave the key here, buried under this tree. It was the only way. My memory is fading and soon it will go away. Please keep everything in my house safe for me. With love, Grandma.”