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New feathered friends

3 July 2024

Last week, we were delighted to welcome four new birds to our family. From Battersea Park Children’s Zoo, we have two laughing kookaburras named Jabba and Kylo. From Banham Zoo, we introduced two striated caracaras named Lucian and Claude. Despite being very different species, both types of birds are renowned for their unique calls.

Striated Caracaras

The striated caracara, also known as the ‘Johnny Rook,’ is a bird of prey found in Argentina and Chile, on the coastal islands off Tierra del Fuego and within the Falkland Islands. These striking birds frequent open lowlands and are often seen along rocky coastlines. With their chocolate-brown feathers, golden faces, and silver-streaked necks, they are quite distinctive. The name ‘striated’ comes from their silvery stripes, while ‘caracara’ refers to their spirited calls.

These clever birds are primarily scavengers, feeding on carrion, including dead seabirds, sheep, offal, and food scraps. Opportunistic by nature, they also prey on weak or injured animals like young seabirds and newborn lambs. Known for their problem-solving skills, striated caracaras often overturn rocks to find food. Thanks to their long legs, they can run quickly on land, and their broad wings allow them to soar gracefully in the air.

Laughing Kookaburras

The laughing kookaburra, the largest member of the kingfisher family, is native to the woodlands of Australia. Known as the “bushman’s alarm clock” due to its loud call, the kookaburra vocalises in its family group at dawn and dusk. The call is a mix of trills, chortles, belly laughs, and hoots. Despite its name, the kookaburra’s famous cackle is actually a territorial call, warning other birds to stay away.

Although they belong to the kingfisher family, laughing kookaburras primarily eat insects, reptiles, frogs, and rodents rather than fish. They are especially famous for their snake-hunting skills, capable of killing snakes up to 3 feet long by grabbing them behind the head and smacking them on the ground. Parent kookaburras often give small snakes to their chicks to teach them how to kill prey.

You might be more familiar with the kookaburra’s call than you realise, as many films use their laughs in rainforest soundtracks. Their calls are often mistaken for monkey sounds due to their similarity.

Our new arrivals have settled in well and are already on display to the public. Why not visit for a chance to hear their distinctive calls for yourself?

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