This story started when two nestling Kookaburras came to me separately via two individual findings. The first finder found one nestling on the ground in the Council Gardens, near the football oval. It was brought to us late one evening.
We received a call the following morning - a finder had taken a second young Kookie to a local Vet, with an ambiguous comment "Found in a park off _______ road, near the Police Station".
We knew that, with no injuries, the best place for these two was back with their parents. We also knew that Kookaburra families occupy one area for life, and defend it against all other Kookies.
Since we knew (roughly) where one of these two were found, there was a good chance that there would only be one family in that area of the Gardens. The Gardens were quite large, and might have housed two, or even three families - but they would be in different territories, with strict demarcation lines.
We didn't know exactly where the second one was found, so it might have been from a different family group within the Gardens. The hope we had was that, since the second one was found "near the Police Station" (just 100 metres from the football oval), these two might be siblings.
Despite that glimmer of hope, we were quite unsure of what the outcome might be. Could we even find the parents of one bird, let alone two, as there was a significant age difference? Would any adult we found accept, or kill, the nestling(s)? Or would they accept one, and kill the other?
We discovered that tree felling had been recently carried out by Council on the football oval adjacent to the Gardens, and surmised that a nesting hollow or termite mound had disappeared along with the felled trees. This would have left the nestling Kookaburras "evicted", and on the ground. Fortunately, they were old enough to be fully feathered. If they had been younger, the cold night might have seen the end of them. Also, being young, they couldn't fly, but could only hop around on the ground - thus, they couldn't have gone too far from home. Bringing them back to that area was the best hope we had.
With help from the Council, all ended well - here's the rest of the story, with photos....
Photo 1 - We spotted a group of adult Kookaburras foraging on the football oval, so placed the older nestling (who had been found in that area) under a gum tree nearby. The youngster's squawks attracted their attention, and they flew closer. One flew down, approved of the youngster, and proceeded to feed it while the other adults kept watch.
Photo 2 - With the older one accepted, we crossed our fingers, and put the second nestling alongside the first (note the size difference).
Photo 3 - With much apprehension (followed by relief) we saw "Mum Kookie" accept the second one too. Whew!
Photo 4 - A nesting box was ordered by the Council, was delivered, and we placed the nestlings inside while the Kookies watched - they soon learned where the chicks had gone to, and stayed back while we completed the job. They seemed to understand we were there to help.
Photo 5 - Putting the nesting box high in the Gum tree.
Photos 6, 7, and 8 - Great joy for all - the Kookies, us, and the Council who provided help to install a new "home" for them.
Will the adults continue to use the nesting box in later seasons? We have yet to find out. They typically re-use the same nesting place year after year (unlike many other birds, which built a new nest each year). The nesting box got them out of a spot, but will it be suitable for an adult to incubate in?
Time will tell.
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