Laugh, Kookaburra

Are you a fan of Dave Sedaris? Always a favorite, his zany travel adventures and poignantly punchy family antics have kept me laughing out loud during many sleepless nights. I've been reminded of his story Laugh, Kookaburra a few times in the last few weeks, not only because it contains my favorite description of Australia ever—"Canada in a thong"—but also for its description of the kookaburra.

This thing was as big as a seagull, but squatter, squarer, and all done up in earth tones, the complete spectrum from beige to dark walnut. When seen full on, the feathers atop his head looked like brush-cut hair, and that gave him a brutish, almost conservative look. If owls were the professors of the avian kingdom, then kookaburras, I thought, might well be the gym teachers.

It isn't too hard to imagine one of these beauties in trainers, blowing a whistle with a stop watch. One of the reasons we visited the koala sanctuary in Brisbane was because we knew they had a few kookaburra in their care (including a very rare and very spectacular blue winged kookaburra), but we were delighted to find so many chattering and enjoying the Australian summer all around us.