Young Kookaburras and snakes

Subject: Young Kookaburras and snakes
From: "Ross Bagpipe Bags Pty. Ltd." <>
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 2010 15:11:18 +1100
Just back from a walk where I witnessed some interesting behaviour between two kookaburras and a snake. Initially an unusual noise alerted me to a kookaburra in a nearby blackwood holding a small snake in its bill. Suddenly another kookaburra flew in, grabbing one end of the dangling snake. A tug-of-war followed and the victor flew to a different tree, followed by the first one. The second one then flew back to the blackwood and proceeded to juggle the snake in its bill. This went on for several minutes. The other kookaburra landed nearby but made no attempt to harass the one with the snake, nor take it back. The one with the snake kept passing it back and forwards across its bill and making the noises that I heard initially. I noticed that the snake appeared to be headless. I left after about 5 minutes watching, with the kookaburra still moving the snake through its bill.

I assumed from this that the bird that had the snake initially must have removed the head and was a parent because it allowed the other one to keep the snake. I also assumed that the second bird was a young one learning to handle a long item of prey. Can anyone comment if these assumptions are likely to be correct? Also does anyone have any idea if young kookaburras are bitten by snakes while they are learning how to manage them?


Sonja Ross

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