Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae

Type of Animal:

Woodlands, forests, edges of plains, urban parks, urban/suburban gardens, wetlands, partly cleared areas, farmland w/ trees along roads & fences, parkland, orchards, partially timbered farmland, suburbs, towns, wooded farmland, cleared farmland, areas near rivers

E Australia. Introduced to Tasmania, far SW Western Australia, & New Zealand.

Largest of all kingfishers, stout stocky bird, large head, brown eyes, long robust black bill (bone colored on bottom), males have bluer rumps, white/cream body/head, brown back/wings w/ sky blue spots on shoulders, tail rusty reddish-orange w/ dark brown bars & white tips on feathers

Insects, insect larvae, worms, reptiles (including venomous snakes), amphibians, small mammals, fish, birds, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, snails, crustaceans, people food if meaty

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos and wildlife centers

Family groups of monogamous pair w/ 1-4 sets of offspring (usually 1-2 birds each). Older siblings act as helpers to younger siblings. Older helpers more often male but can also be female.

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Riot

Male: 10.8 oz
Female: 12.4 oz
Young: 5 oz

3-4 weeks 

Life Span:
12-15 years

Male: 1.3 ft
Female: 1.5 ft

Body Length:
Male: 1.3 ft
Female: 1.5 ft

Tail Length:
0.5 ft, same for both sexes

Main predators of adults are raptors, foxes, cats, dogs, quolls, pythons, & monitor lizards. Many snakes eat chicks. Possums eat eggs.
Play important role in controlling populations of smaller animals.
Sexually mature at a year old, though many stay until age 3.
Hunt by staying still on branch/perch waiting for it to pass by. Once it passes by, it’ll swoop down & land next to it taking it into bill. Then will bang prey against branch & swallow whole-head first.
Typically breed from August-January, laying around 3 eggs. Oftentimes, smallest chick killed by 2 larger chicks.
Fights between neighbors can be vicious & sometimes fatal.
Chicks hatch blind & featherless.

Fun Fact(s):
A kookaburra was a mascot for 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
1 Aboriginal legend says laugh signal for sky people to light sun each morning.
Once called laughing jackass, because laugh has donkey-like sound.
They’re quite bold & will steal meat right in front of people as well as readily accept handouts. They’ve even been seen stealing food from snakes (one of their favorite foods).
Famous laugh actually territorial call-often whole group does it in unison.
Often called “bushman’s alarm clock” due to loud call, typically done at dawn/dusk.
Famous for “Kookaburra” nursery rhyme written in 1932. It’s true kookaburras often found on gum trees.
In many jungle movies, sounds often recordings of this bird since they sound like monkeys.
Laughing Kookaburra, stock photo

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