Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Laughing Kookaburra
Dacelo novaeguineae
(Viewing 4 of 18 photos)

Click to listen to sound samples The Laughing Kookaburra is the world's largest kingfisher. The generic name Dacelo is actually an anagram of Alcedo, another genus in the kingfisher family. Their loud early morning advertising calls, beginning at first light have long been part of folk lore in Australia.

One of Australia's many sociable species, "kookas" occupy permanent territories in family groups, on average 3 or 4 in number but up to 13 birds have been recorded in a group on occasions. They are very long-lived birds and some live for 20 years, or probably even longer! Laughing Kookaburras range through the eucalypt forests of eastern Australia from Cape York to Melbourne and west to Eyre Peninsula. They have also been introduced into SW W.A., Tasmania and New Zealand where in some areas they are now regarded as pests.

They may take the odd fish from a garden pond but don't normally eat fish, instead they feed on a variety of terrestrial prey, small snakes, lizards, rodents, invertebrates and even a small bird occasionally but more often, earthworms are a large part of the diet when available. Overhead powerlines are now one of their main vantage points where they sit surveying the scene for long periods. They have very acute eyesight, so much so that a kookaburra can spot an earthworm move from up to 50 metres away!

In some suburban areas people have taken to feeding their kookaburras with mince meat - not a good idea because it increases their chance of survival and also the local balance of the avifauna. In some national parks they have now become a pest and snatch food from unwitting campers - off a table, off the barbeque or even out of your hand!

Photo: 322005

322005 ... Laughing Kookaburras with Red-bellied Black Snake.

Photo: 322006

322006 ... Laughing Kookaburra.

Photo: 322201

322201 ... Laughing Kookaburra with snake

Photo: 322204

322204 ... Immature female, has a brown rump (blue in males).

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