Animal Species:Laughing Kookaburra

The Laughing Kookaburra is not really laughing when it makes its familiar call. The cackle of the Laughing Kookaburra is actually a territorial call to warn other birds to stay away.

Laughing Kookaburras, a pair

 © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Laughing Kookaburra

Identification

The Laughing Kookaburra is instantly recognisable in both plumage and voice. It is generally off-white below, faintly barred with dark brown, and brown on the back and wings. The tail is more rufous, broadly barred with black. There is a conspicuous dark brown eye-stripe through the face. It is one of the larger members of the kingfisher family.

Size range

40 cm to 45 cm

Similar Species

Blue-winged Kookaburra

Distribution

Laughing Kookaburras are found throughout eastern Australia. They have been introduced to Tasmania, the extreme south-west of Western Australia, and New Zealand. Replaced by the Blue-winged Kookaburra in central northern and north-western Australia, with some overlap in Queensland, although this species is more coastal.

Habitat

The Laughing Kookaburra inhabits most areas where there are suitable trees.

Feeding and Diet

Laughing Kookaburras feed mostly on insects, worms and crustaceans, although small snakes, mammals, frogs and birds may also be eaten. Prey is seized by pouncing from a suitable perch. Small prey is eaten whole, but larger prey is killed by bashing it against the ground or tree branch.

Communication

The chuckling voice that gives this species its name is a common and familiar sound throughout the bird's range. The loud 'koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-kaa-kaa-kaa' is often sung in a chorus with other individuals. The Laughing Kookaburra also has a shorter 'koooaa', which is normally given when accompanied by other members of its family group.

Mating and reproduction

Laughing Kookaburras are believed to pair for life. The nest is a bare chamber in a naturally occurring tree hollow or in a burrow excavated in an arboreal (tree-dwelling) termite mound. Both sexes share the incubation duties and both care for the young. Other Laughing Kookaburras, usually offspring of the previous one to two years, act as 'helpers' during the breeding season. Every bird in the group shares all parenting duties.

  • Breeding Season: August to January.

Economic/social impacts

Laughing Kookaburras often become quite tame around humans and will readily accept scraps of meat. This 'pre-processed' food is still beaten against a perch before swallowing.

Classification

Species:
novaeguineae
Genus:
Dacelo
Family:
Halcyonidae
Order:
Coraciiformes
Class:
Aves
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  • Higgins, P.J. (ed) 1999. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 4 (Parrots to Dollarbird). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  • Strahan, R. (ed) 1994. Cuckoos, Nightbirds and Kingfishers of Australia. Angus and Robertson/Australian Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.


Ondine Evans , Web Researcher/Editor
Last Updated:

Tags laughing kookaburra, birds, biby, kingfishers,

1 comment

shepherd6769 - 11.11 PM, 06 November 2011
Swooped in to rest on the balcony.

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