Kookaburras and Nightwork

Subject: Kookaburras and Nightwork
From: Craig Williams <>
Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2005 16:17:05 +1000
Hi Michael and others,

I was simply posting a note about bird behaviour that I had not directly
witnessed before, though again sighting a KB doing so did not at all
surprise me given that kingfishers generally are often active callers at
night. Can't say I was implying in any sense that it was necessarily
"good" that Kookaburras or other species are exploiting human light
regimes, and I'm particularly interested in the impacts of lightscapes
on insects - moth species especially but not to forget the thousands
upon thousands of beetles of all sorts that get sucked in by human
transformations of light regimes.  

And consider the number of nightbirds that pick up on insects caught in
the lights of  oncoming vehicles  .... we know what the results look
like on the road!

That said, and given the extent of urban/suburban development scheduled
for areas of remaining and remnant bushland throughout Australia, birds
and others don't have much of a choice when it comes to radical changes
to habitats: the KB in the hospital grounds might, arguably, be making a
virtue out of necessity.  But this is what I'm interested in research
terms: what are the impacts, short and long term, detrimental, positive
or other, on birds.  How do these transformations impact on the ways
that people engage with birds under such circumstances: in other words,
the nonhuman/human dynamics involved.

Any thoughts appreciated.


Craig Williams

>>> michael norris <> 04/15/05 3:13 PM >>>
Hi all

As I've enjoyed birds and bats feeding near lamps I don't blame Craig 
Williams for his original email when he asked if other have noted 
Kookaburras exploiting human light regimes to good effect.

BUT is it "good"?  There is increasing concern, following the pioneering

work by Prof Gerhard Eisenbeis of Johannes Gutenberg Universitat in
Germany, that artificial light is greatly damaging insect diversity
the globe. Lighting can attract insects to be fried, separate males from

females (especially where the females are wingless) and vacuum them up
to be 
caught by predators.

Here in Melbourne we have, for instance, a Yarra bridge - the Bolte -
has been turned into an "icon" with brilliantly lit towers.  Thousands
Silver Gulls, now breeding throughout the year!, can be seen flying
there at 
night.  (Of course they are also feeding elsewhere with chicken bones
by Ian Temby at their nest sites!).

Gerhard's experiments so far conclude that sodium rather than mercury
and lamp shades which direct their light to where it is needed
will help insects (ie. bird food, pollinators, leaf cullers) and save
(= global warming).

Michael Norris
Bayside Friends of Native Wildlife


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