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Kookaburra screams on the YouTube tree - Not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be
Kookaburra screams on the YouTube tree
Today was looooong and exhausting and I'm headed for bed. But here's a thing: We went back to the zoo today, which involved four hours of walking in perfect sunny but cool spring weather, with the animals largely out and alert and doing interesting things. The birds were often singing, the cats and lizards were out basking, the elephants were doing interesting elephanty things. We were in one of the habitats watching a superb starling explore its entire musical repertoire at length when we heard a godawful racket of screaming and shrieking and uproarious laughter, and thefirethorn said "That's a kookaburra!" So we ran back to the kookaburra cage, and saw both the kookaburras leaping from branch to branch and vocalizing like crazy, this immense booming sound that ranged between hyena laughter and screams. I grew up on the kookaburra song ("Laugh, kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra, gay your life must be") but I'm not sure I'd ever heard one actually laugh before.

So all five of us — me, Thorn, her husband, and their kids — stood there gaping as they jumped around yelling and making that distinctive guffawing mockery nose. When they calmed down and were quiet, we were all very excited at each other over the fact that we'd never heard such a thing before. And then a woman walked up to us and said "Oh, they're just agitated because my son played them a YouTube clip of another kookaburra." And the teenager next to her pulled out his phone and played this video:

And 10 seconds into it, the kookaburras started going nuts again, throwing themselves from side to side in the cage and screaming and laughing their heads off. It was no less impressive the second time, but now it had the unpleasant tone of watching an animal freak out because someone is jabbing it with a stick through the bars of its cage. The teenager wandered off, but the noises continued for another couple of minutes before the birds settled again.

It all reminded me a lot of the fascinating YouTube video where a man showed a cuttlefish an image of itself through his reversible eyepiece, and it darkened and started stalking the image, and every other cuttlefish in the tank came over to see what the big deal was. In theory, it shouldn't be hard to call up the sound of a lion's mating call or territorial roars and play it at a zoo lion to see if he responds; I wonder if a lot of that goes on all day at zoos at that point. And I wonder how long before there are prominently placed "Do not torment the animals with technology" signs to go with the "Do not feed or tease animals" signs.

I'm-a feelin': annoyed annoyed

9 people still haven't weakened / Isn't it a great life?
ladycelia From: ladycelia Date: March 19th, 2013 12:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
This 'tormenting with technology' is actually a real problem with birds. With the advent of birding apps for smartphones, some folks use bird calls that are supposed to be for i.d. purposes to try to get a response while out in the field. This can cause great upset during breeding seasons with some of the more specialized birds that have limited territory.
bibliofile From: bibliofile Date: March 19th, 2013 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
No! Don't do that!!!! Geez, I'm not a birder, and even *I* know not to do that.
From: magdalene1 Date: March 19th, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

I remember that song!

For science: Beadie really does not like kookaburra calls.
rollick From: rollick Date: March 21st, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I remember that song!

I'm half tempted to play it for Bal, but Cass has erected "Please do not torment our housecat with technology" signs all over the house.
bibliofile From: bibliofile Date: March 19th, 2013 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
So you're saying that they'll have to expand even this sign?

One Hallowe'en at a local zoo, a friend dressed up in a tiger mascot costume. As he and his partner (dressed as a parrot) walked past the tiger enclosure, the cats chuffed at them. Sort of the head nod and "Dude" acknowledgement, big cat to Hobbes-ish. Or could they smell all the housecats on him?
apostle_of_eris From: apostle_of_eris Date: March 21st, 2013 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
ah, the "laughing jackass"
There's also the lyrebird, which can imitate any sound, through and including a chain saw . . .
rollick From: rollick Date: March 21st, 2013 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Posted sign: "Please do not use chainsaws around the lyrebird cage in order to excite it."
thefirethorn From: thefirethorn Date: March 22nd, 2013 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)
THAT is funny.
thefirethorn From: thefirethorn Date: March 22nd, 2013 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)
It was the VISUAL of watching the birds making that noise that I loved - it looked like a lot of exercise, getting that noise out.
9 people still haven't weakened / Isn't it a great life?