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Kukaburra by Judy Bellah

Kookaburra, Laughing

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Description

The Laughing Kookaburra, also known as the Giant Kingfisher, is native to New Guinea and Eastern Australia. The largest of the kingfishers, the Laughing Kookaburras females are slightly smaller than males with less blue on the rump.

Their feathers are brown with a white underbelly. Their beak is large, about 10 cm (4 inches) long. Their head is big compared to their compact body; they have small feet. They have a distinctive black eye band.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Coraciiformes
Family
Alcedinidae
Genus
Dacelo
Species
D. novaeguineae
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Length
40-46 cm (15-18 inches)
Weight
454 g (16 ounces)

Social Life: Kookaburras are active during the day and do most of their calling before dawn. They prefer to live in small groups, usually a dominant pair with younger offspring and they advertise their territory by calling as a group.

Habitat and Range: Kookaburras prefer to live in wooded areas; they often live near cities and towns. They are frequently found in eucalyptus groves, which is the origin of the song “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.” They originally inhabited eastern Australia but are now found in western Australia and Tasmania.

Diet: Kookaburras are carnivores; they eat rodents, insects, worms, frogs, crustaceans and snakes. They have excellent vision to detect prey from above. They smash their prey against hard surfaces to kill and tenderize them, then swallow the prey headfirst.

Lifespan: Kookaburras live about 15 years in captivity.

Predators: Airborne predators such as eagles, goshawks and owls are most likely to eat kookaburras.  The kookaburras’ defense is camouflage.  They also vocalize loudly to warn that there are predators nearby.  The chicks and eggs are relatively safe in the hollow of a tree.

Reproduction: Courtship for kookaburras, who pair bond for many years, involves the male bringing food to the female, guarding her and helping to search for a suitable tree hollow to make a nest. These nest sites are often used year after year. The female kookaburra lays 2-4 eggs per clutch in a cavity nest in a tree. Eggs are laid in the Australian spring, September through December.

Life is difficult for the young chicks as they are so immature when they hatch; usually only the first two hatched survive. They fledge at 33-39 days. By that time they have actual feathers and are able to fly well. Until they are very close to fledging they have only pinfeathers. This helps to prevent the feathers from becoming ragged and damaged inside the small, enclosed nesting space.

In the wild chicks are cared for by a family group. The helpers are young from previous hatchings. They help the dominant male and female by smashing prey and feeding it to the young chicks. The female stays in the nest in the daytime; the male at night.

The young begin their laughing call at six weeks to three months. They are not sexually mature until about one year old, and often delay reproductions by another year or two.

Information

Description

The Laughing Kookaburra, also known as the Giant Kingfisher, is native to New Guinea and Eastern Australia. The largest of the kingfishers, the Laughing Kookaburras females are slightly smaller than males with less blue on the rump.

Their feathers are brown with a white underbelly. Their beak is large, about 10 cm (4 inches) long. Their head is big compared to their compact body; they have small feet. They have a distinctive black eye band.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Coraciiformes
Family
Alcedinidae
Genus
Dacelo
Species
D. novaeguineae
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Length
40-46 cm (15-18 inches)
Weight
454 g (16 ounces)

Social Life: Kookaburras are active during the day and do most of their calling before dawn. They prefer to live in small groups, usually a dominant pair with younger offspring and they advertise their territory by calling as a group.

Habitat and Range: Kookaburras prefer to live in wooded areas; they often live near cities and towns. They are frequently found in eucalyptus groves, which is the origin of the song “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.” They originally inhabited eastern Australia but are now found in western Australia and Tasmania.

Diet: Kookaburras are carnivores; they eat rodents, insects, worms, frogs, crustaceans and snakes. They have excellent vision to detect prey from above. They smash their prey against hard surfaces to kill and tenderize them, then swallow the prey headfirst.

Lifespan: Kookaburras live about 15 years in captivity.

Predators: Airborne predators such as eagles, goshawks and owls are most likely to eat kookaburras.  The kookaburras’ defense is camouflage.  They also vocalize loudly to warn that there are predators nearby.  The chicks and eggs are relatively safe in the hollow of a tree.

Reproduction: Courtship for kookaburras, who pair bond for many years, involves the male bringing food to the female, guarding her and helping to search for a suitable tree hollow to make a nest. These nest sites are often used year after year. The female kookaburra lays 2-4 eggs per clutch in a cavity nest in a tree. Eggs are laid in the Australian spring, September through December.

Life is difficult for the young chicks as they are so immature when they hatch; usually only the first two hatched survive. They fledge at 33-39 days. By that time they have actual feathers and are able to fly well. Until they are very close to fledging they have only pinfeathers. This helps to prevent the feathers from becoming ragged and damaged inside the small, enclosed nesting space.

In the wild chicks are cared for by a family group. The helpers are young from previous hatchings. They help the dominant male and female by smashing prey and feeding it to the young chicks. The female stays in the nest in the daytime; the male at night.

The young begin their laughing call at six weeks to three months. They are not sexually mature until about one year old, and often delay reproductions by another year or two.