I like these coins. They're also going to appear in my signature set for Modern World Silver Bullion (check it out, you know you want to). I love these bullion series that change every year. It keeps things fun. It's distinctly less appealing on circulating coinage though.
Kookaburras are large terrestrial kingfishers native to Australia and New Guinea. Their name is taken directly from an aboriginal language, Wiradjuir. That word, guuguubarra, is onomatopoeic, attempting to imitate the bird’s call. The bird is classified as being in the Dacelo genus, of the Halcyonidae family in the Coraciiformes order.
The birds are best known for their call, which is said to bear an uncanny similarity to echoing human laughter. Personally, I think they sound more like a bunch of chimps going crazy than people. The laugher seems "good-natured" in the case of the “laughing kookaburra” (Dacelo novaeguineae) and sounds like "maniacal cackling" in the case of the “blue-winged kookaburra” (Dacelo leachii). Either way, their title as the "laughing jackasses of Australia" seems well deserved.
They inhabit areas ranging from humid forests to arid savannas but can also be found in residential areas if food and running water are readily available. There is a total of 4 kookaburra species including the “rufous-bellied kookaburra” (Dacelo gaudichaud) and the “spangled kookaburra” (Dacelo tyro).
They look cute enough but this definitely is not just a nice and cuddly bird. There’s no bird seed when it comes to these guys. Kookaburras are meat eaters and prey on lizards, insects, snakes, mice and raw meat. Some of them will take handouts from humans and some bold birds will steal from open air barbecues if there’s no one watching. The temperature of the meat doesn’t really make a difference to them. Festering mince stuck in the bird’s beak can cause problems for them. They will eat the babies of other birds, snakes, insects, and reptiles. In zoos, they are fed the same food as larger birds of prey and dead chicks. Overall, the bird is valued for killing snakes and lizards (sometimes by simply beating them senseless) but can be disliked for their raids on farmyards to eat helpless ducklings and chicks. Not really the type of animal most people would want to keep in a bird cage… That is of course assuming that you could find a big enough cage. They're approximately 17 inches tall.
The Australian aborigines have a legend about the Kookaburra. When the sun rose for the first time, the god Bayame ordered the kookaburra to utter its loud, almost human laughter in order to wake up mankind so that they should not miss the wonderful sunrise. The sunrise calls of the kookaburra are sometimes referred to as the “bushman’s clock.” The aborigines also believed that any child who insulted a kookaburra would grow an extra slanting tooth. That’s pretty harsh punishment for insulting a bird.
The series of silver Australian bullion coins that features them started in 1990. The coins originally were given a face value of 5 dollars but this was changed to 1 dollar in 1992.