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Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)

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Laughing kookaburras on bare branches

Laughing kookaburras on bare branches

That scientific name had me stumped; it seems to say "New Guinea". Lots of reading later—about naturalists pinching each others' work and incorrect information being recorded—I'm still not sure how this bird finished up with that name.

When I was little I hadn't heard of kookaburras at all; this bird was a "Laughing Jackass", and supposed to announce the imminence of rain. Probably not true; they laughed their way through the horrible dry summer of 2008-2009, when there wasn't a cloud in the sky.