I'm not up that early very often.
Yesterday the local couple were in my back yard. It was 6 am so too late for the territorial laughter. There was simply the gargling warble that usually precedes the full-throated laugh of the bird and then silence. They were hunting.
I looked out my kitchen window and there they were, one perched on the edge of the trampoline, the other on top of a lattice frame. Grey-winged kookaburras, of course. The blue-wings can't laugh at all - they cough. The bird on the trampoline gargled a few times, each time thrusting its long beak forward and arching its neck to make the sound. It's a magnificent thing to watch. At once graceful and instinctive, uncontrolled. They sat there in silence then for nearly an hour. A couple of times one of them would fly the short distance to the ground and return to their temporary perch with a worm or lizard in its beak.
It doesn't matter what they catch, it always gets thrashed against the perch, even the poor worms that couldn't possibly have needed much tenderising. I've seen a kookaburra do that to a mouse. Swing its head violently to the side, slamming the mouse against the branch of a tree. Even from across the road I heard the bones crunch. Swing, thwack, swing, thwack. Again and again until the kookaburra was finally satisfied and tossed the limp bundle down its throat.
I think kookaburras might be my favourite bird. They're loyal and protective, joyful and patient. They're large enough for me to see in a tree without having to search for ages with the binoculars. The colouring in their feathers is magnificent. Every shade of grey and brown and cream, and the blue-wings have the most magnificent electric blue streaks in the primary feathers. Their laugh is infectious. It makes the cool pre-dawn darkness a thing of joy; the day ahead something to be anticipated.