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The Laughing Kookaburra

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Jonah Dunch

on 16 October 2014

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Transcript of The Laughing Kookaburra

King of the Bush
The laughing kookaburra (not to be confused with the lacking cucumber burger) is a species of songbird living in Australia. It is famous for its peculiar call, which, as its name suggests, is reminiscent of a laugh.
The Laughing Kookaburra
(This is a kookaburra.)
The laughing kookaburra primarily inhabits Australia's temperate rainforests of eucalyptus, but is also adaptable to urban environments as well. Some abiotic features of this habitat that affects the kookaburra are the heat of the sun, and the presence of man-made structures in urban areas, which can potentially act as navigational obstructions for the bird in flight, and can be accompanied by or composed of toxic materials.
The kookaburra is a creature of the natural world, and as such, he must adapt and grow over time in the face of nature's restless and undiscriminating march, learning to float seamlessly with the tides of biotic and abiotic factors. Come, let's take a look at the Bush King's remarkable adaptations.

The laughing kookaburra's binomial name is
Dacelo Novaeguineae.
Now, you may be wondering why I chose the laughing kookaburra. Well, you're about to find out!
This organism comes from my Dad's native Australia, and has been the source of fond memories of my childhood stint living in the country. It is also the inspiration of a pretty groovy children's song.
Abiotic Factors
Coming up next: The laughing kookaburra's range!
For comparison, here's a map of the continent's biomes. As is evident, the laughing kookaburra dwells mainly in the temperate rainforest.
First of all, let me dub this graphic the Meta-Australia.
Adaptations to Avoid Being Eaten
1. The laughing kookaburra has white and brown plumage that blends well with its surroundings, and thus provides convenient camouflage from predators.

2. The bird is reclusive and territorial, nesting in discreet tree hollows that are inaccessible to or otherwise unnoticed by potential predators.

3. Its distinct "laughing" call is used to mark the kookaburra's territory and thereby ensure its shelter.

4. As an agile bird, the laughing kookaburra is given a locomotive advantage by its capacity for flight, aiding in a speedy evasion of a potential predator.
Adaptations for Finding Food
1. The laughing kookaburra's long beak (up to 10 cm long) is an affective tool for catching small animals.

2. The kookaburra is adapted to perch perfectly still on a branch until prey is sighted.

3. As a kingfisher, the kookaburra is adapted to dive down upon prey with precision, utilizing well-honed instincts and aerodynamics.

4. The kookaburra's penetrating claws allow it to carefully grip caught food before dropping it to the ground to increase its malleability.

5. Some kookaburras, particularly those in urban settings, have specialized calls to beg for food.
The kookaburra uses yet another specialized call to attract a mate. The male kookaburra often also has a streak of blue above the base of the tail, which is an alluring asset from the female's perspective.
1. The kookaburra's beak is used to carve hollows into trees to make a suitable nest.

2. Like most birds, the kookaburra has instinctual navigational skills that keep it oriented in the thick and disorganized forest and city environments.

3. Its plumage blends in with the similarly coloured ground and foliage.
Adaptations for Environmental Suitability
The Art of Seduction
Two of the laughing kookaburra's closest evolutionary relatives are the woodpecker and the hornbill.
Getting Busy
The laughing kookaburra lives in tightly knit family groupings that care for young communally. A female lays one to five eggs in a clutch. The newborn chicks are cared for by an ensemble of elder siblings and parents within the sheltered confines of a tree hollow nest. A parent's catch is brought back to feed the young. Relatively mature children stay on to help nurture the new coming clutch.
Lamarck versus Darwin
The Adaptation of a Beak Used for Tree Burrowing
to weigh in,
"This adaptation arose from the laughing kookaburra's need for a method of establishing a secure nest. Over generations, its will forced its physical nature to change into a form suitable for such a task, and behold: The animal's long and sharp beak was sprouted!"
Darwin selects
his answer,
"Genetic mutation caused certain samples of the laughing kookaburra species to develop long and sharp beaks. This proved to be an evolutionary advantage in consolidating a nest, and so the population bearing this mutation flourished, with those without it dying off. The pronounced beak thus became a genetic normality for the species."
Convergent Evolution: A description of a case in which two species have undergone disparate processes of evolution, but bear similar adapted qualities.
A bat is an example of an organism with analogous structures to the laughing kookaburra: both organisms have wings that function for flight.
Divergent Evolution: A description of a case in which two or more organisms have evolved from a common ancestor, yet bear markedly different adapted qualities.
An example of an organism with homologous structures to the laughing kookaburra is the chicken: While being adapted for very different environments, the two organisms share a similar wing structure.
Laughing Kookaburra:
From Peasant to King
Analogous and Homologous Structures
Convergent and Divergent Evolution
The laughing kookaburra's success in the wild has been impeded by habitat loss due to deforestation by human beings. Hypothetically speaking, the extinction of small snakes and invertebrates in the kookaburra's habitat would also have dire consequences for the bird, as they are its main food source. Tree infestation by a burrowing insect (in the vein of the Northern pine beetle) would also threaten the kookaburra's nesting spaces.
Thanks for joining me on this exciting journey through the intricate universe of the merry merry King of the Bush, the laughing kookaburra.
Jonah Dunch
La Fin
Full transcript