The laughing kookaburra is native to the south-west of Western Australia, eastern Australia but has also been introduced to parts of New Zealand, Tasmania, and Western Australia. It occupies dry eucalypt forest, woodland, city parks and gardens. This species is sedentary and occupies the same territory throughout the year. It is monogamous, retaining the same partner for life. A breeding pair can be accompanied by up to five fully grown non-breeding offspring from previous years that help the parents defend their territory and raise their young. The laughing kookaburra generally breeds in unlined tree holes or in excavated holes in arboreal termite nests. The usual clutch is three white eggs. The parents and the helpers incubate the eggs and feed the chicks. The youngest of the three nestlings or chicks is often killed by the older siblings. When the chicks fledge they continue to be fed by the group for six to ten weeks until they are able to forage independently.
The Laughing Kookaburra is a bird in the kingfisher subfamily Halcyoninae. It is a large robust kingfisher with a whitish head and a brown eye-stripe. The upperparts are mostly dark brown but there is a mottled light-blue patch on the wing coverts. The underparts are cream-white and the tail is barred with rufous and black. The plumage of the male and female birds is similar. The territorial call is a distinctive laugh that is often delivered by several birds at the same time and is widely used as a stock sound effect in situations that involve a jungle setting.
A predator bird of a wide variety of small animals, the laughing kookaburra typically waits perched on a branch until it sees an animal on the ground and then flies down and pounces on its prey. Its diet includes lizards, insects, worms, snakes, mice and it is known to take goldfish out of garden ponds. Laughing Kookaburras feed mostly on insects, worms and crustaceans, although small snakes, mammals, frogs and birds may also be eaten.
Lating Name: Dacelo novaeguineae
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.
Laughing Kookaburra and Blue-winged Australian Native Birds Facts
What Kookaburras eating – 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.
Kookaburras Breeding 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, usual offspring of the previous one to two years, act as ‘helpers’ during the breeding season. Every bird in the group shares all parenting duties.
Laughing Kookaburra and Blue-winged Australian Native Birds together video
This species possesses a tracheobronchial syrinx, which creates two sources of vibrations so it can produce two frequencies at the same time with multiple harmonics. The chuckling voice that gives this species its name is a common and familiar sound throughout the bird’s range. The loud voice is often sung in a chorus with other individuals. The Laughing Kookaburra also has a shorter, which is normally given when accompanied by other members of its family group. The laughing kookaburra’s call is made through a complex sound production system, by forcing air from the lungs into the bronchial tubes. The adult male will sing a short portion of the call while the offspring mimics this call, usually unsuccessfully. The singing lessons tend to last two weeks before the fledgling can properly sing and take part in crepuscular choral songs. Once mastered, the young can join in crepuscular chorus songs that aid in establishing territory
The Blue-winged Kookaburra of northern Australia makes a call described more like a harsh, cackling scream or barking.
The Blue-winged Kookaburra is a large kingfisher with a big square head and a long bill. It has a distinctive pale eye. The head is off-white with brown streaks, the shoulders are sky blue and it has a uniform blue rump. The throat is plain white and the underparts are white with faint scalloped orange-brown bars. The back is mid-brown. Males have a dark blue tail while females’ tails are barred red-brown or blackish. Otherwise, the sexes are similar. The legs and feet are grey and the bill is dark above and yellowish below. Juveniles have paler streaks on the head with darker mottlings. There is a slight geographical variation with plumage more buff in north-western Australia. The Blue-winged Kookaburra is also known as the Barking or Howling Jackass or Leach’s Kookaburra. As they are shy and often quiet in the foliage they may be overlooked.
They have much brighter colouration, with light coloured eyes, and are more top-heavy with broader showers and a larger beak than the considerably shyer cousin the Laughing Kookaburra. There are differences in appearance between male and females with a blue tail in the male, and a rufous tail reddish-brown or brownish-red with blackish bars in the female. Immature birds have more prominent brown bars and marks in their plumage, giving a dirty appearance, and their eyes are predominantly brown for the first two years of life.
Diet and Habitat
Blue-winged Kookaburras can be found in tropical and subtropical open woodlands, grasslands, paperbark swamps, timber on watercourses, clearings, farmlands, parks and gardens of northern Australia.
They hunt and eat a great variety of animals that live on or close to the ground. They appear to hunt a high proportion of snakes, possibly because these are more common in the tropics. They also eat small reptiles, frogs, insects and other invertebrates. Before taking prey, they’re seized with the bill after a gliding flight. When deemed a suitable size, the prey is then taken on the ground by hunting from a perch. Kookaburras can be seen beating their food against a perch area. This is to help break up the bones and tendons, as well as tendering the food for easier digestion.
Blue-winged Kookaburras have suffered from loss of habitat resulting from land clearing, and are often killed on roads as adult birds are slow flyers and vulnerable to being hit by cars on country roads. The red goshawk and rufous owl prey upon the blue-winged kookaburra.