Kookaburra Chorus

Kookaburra Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Merry merry king of the bush is he
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
Gay your life must be

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Eating all the gumdrops he can see
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
Leave some gums for me

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree
Counting all the monkeys he can see
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
That’s no monkey, that’s ME!!!

At Girl Scout camp in Kansas, we roasted marshmallows and sang about the Kookaburra.  I had no idea what a kookaburra was.  And a gum tree?  What was that?  Was it spearmint, doublemint or Juicy Fruit? 

Laughing Kookaburra.

Laughing Kookaburra.

Finally, I got to Australia and met this large laughing bird, which sits high in eucalyptus (gum) trees on the lookout for snakes, lizards and baby birds (ugh).  It’s also called the “Laughing Jackass.” It gets to be about 17 inches long and will smash its food, whether a snake or a baby bird, against a rock to break its bones to make the prey easier to swallow.  The kookaburra is an essential part of the Australian ecosystem, especially when it eats those very poisonous Aussie snakes.  The bird at work, though, doesn’t paint a lovely lyrical picture for me.

The song was written by an Australian woman, but kookaburras don’t eat gum drops or any seeds, and there aren’t any monkeys in Australia, except in zoos.  What kind of a song is that to teach to children!

You won’t see the kookaburra at the bird feeder with the cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets and the rosellas, but it might swoop into an Aussie backyard (or “garden”) for some barbecue. 

In Sydney at the house of friends who lived in a wooded area, we awoke at daybreak every morning to a chorus of kookaburras, otherwise known as the bushman’s alarm clock.   

Half asleep,  I dreamed I was on the jungle ride at Disney World.  The kookaburra’s laugh is the iconic jungle sound on a number of movie soundtracks, although the kookaburras live only in Australia, New Guinea and the Aru Islands.  The kookaburra laugh, on high speed, was also used as Flipper’s “voice” on the television show about the dolphin “Flipper.”

Now, I can’t get that darned song out of my head!  Or the kookaburra’s chorus, either.  You can find many versions of the song on YouTube.com.  Listen to it, if you don’t mind it taking over your brain.

More about the kookaburra, including a link to its call.

About the origin of the Girl Guide (and Girl Scout) song “Kookaburra.”


Filed under Animals, Australia, Biology, Bird-watching, Birds, Humor, Life, Nature, Personal, Random, Travel

5 responses to “Kookaburra Chorus

  1. I remember that song very well, yes, learned at the Girl Guides. Thanks for clarifying what a K. is and the old gum tree. Some fantastic pics from Downunder you have here. Did you take that awesome starry night sky? How did you do that?

    Thanks. I’m glad you like my photos, but I have to confess that the starry night photo is from flickr.com. I’d love to know how to take a photo like that. I think the cost of the photography equipment required might be astronomical, though! Cathy


  2. What I remember is sitting in the Kid compound at Dreamworld on the gold coast singing this.

    It’s a very catchy song. I now know where the Gold Coast is — north of Sydney, isn’t it? Cathy


  3. Sorry I should had been more specific. Dreamworld is North of Surfers Paradise and South of Brisbane, Queensland Australia.


  4. Ha! We teach all our little Brownies all the camping songs and like Kookaburra we teach them London bridges. They laugh and laugh. Ashes and all that.
    It was fun to be young and camping. I remember…


  5. Must be one of those worldwide songs – we sung this when I was a Brownie in Hong Kong!

    Cathy, I like the way you do your replies in italics underneath the person’s comment. How do you do this? Is it in edit comment? If it is how you do get it to write italics?

    Yes, you add your own comments in “edit comment” after clicking on the italic function. I got this idea from Arti of http://www.rippleeffects.wordpress.com


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s