Albino Kookaburra Variant Discovered in Australia

December 6, 2010 Updated: December 7, 2010

Albino kookaburras: Harry Kunz of Eagles Nest wildlife hospital handles the two unique chicks. (Courtesy of Eagles Nest Wildlife Hospital)
Albino kookaburras: Harry Kunz of Eagles Nest wildlife hospital handles the two unique chicks. (Courtesy of Eagles Nest Wildlife Hospital)
Albino kookaburras with blue-hued wings were discovered on Monday, Dec. 6, in north Queensland, Australia, for the first time, according to specialist wildlife caregivers.

The kookaburra is an Australian native terrestrial kingfisher with a cackling signature call, which sounds similar to laughing.

Unlike the more common laughing kookaburras, blue-winged kookaburras “scream more like a parrot,” local wildlife specialist Harry Kunz of Eagles Nest Wildlife Hospital told The Epoch Times.

Kunz said there are white laughing kookaburras in captivity in Australia with dark eyes, but these new birds appear to be the first albino blue-winged birds on record and have red eyes.

The chicks were found on the ground by a local farm worker and are believed to have been blown from their nest during a recent severe storm.

They have been adopted by Eagles Nest Wildlife Hospital in Ravenshoe, southwest of Cairns. Owner Harry Kunz has applied for an educational permit from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to keep the birds, which would normally die in the wild.

Wildlife specialist Karin Traub, also of Eagles Nest Wildlife Hospital, said the birds are “not releasable because they are too visible.” Their white coloring makes them vulnerable to predators, and “other kookaburras might attack them.”

Albino kookaburra: one of two unique blue-winged kookaburra chicks rescued from certain death in the wild. (Courtesy of Eagles Nest Wildlife Hospital)
Albino kookaburra: one of two unique blue-winged kookaburra chicks rescued from certain death in the wild. (Courtesy of Eagles Nest Wildlife Hospital)
Traub said the birds are probably females, but it is difficult to be sure as they are young and do not have normal coloring. Usually, male blue-winged kookaburras can be identified by the blue feathers in their tails.

Traub and Kunz have spoken with an expert on albino animals to better understand the birds’ predicament and what special care they might need.

“With albino snakes, you have to turn the lights off so they can see their food,” Traub said.

But when the chicks were introduced into a larger aviary, they began to fly around, and the caregivers were pleased to observe that they could spot their food in full daylight.

The birds do not have names yet. However, a couple from Western Australia called the wildlife hospital, offering to sponsor the special birds’ care and could be awarded naming rights. Traub said the kookaburras will be expensive to keep because of their carnivorous diet.

Eagles Nest was recently in the local news when several newly released wallabies were taken by neighbors’ dogs. Traub said the council is now looking into enforcing proper fencing of neighboring properties to prevent any more losses.

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