Laughing kookaburra in exhibit

Laughing Kookaburra

Scientific Name
Dacelo novaeguineae novaeguineae
Geographic Range
Eastern Australia; introduced to Western Australia and New Zealand
Invertebrates and small vertebrates
Laughing kookaburra in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

Laughing kookaburras have a white chest and head, dark brown wings, a brown back, brown stripes around their eyes, and a reddish-colored tail with black bards. They and get up to 18 inches long and can have a 4-inch-long beak. Like many kingfishers, they often kill prey by grasping them with their beak and striking them against their perch. These birds prefer dry eucalyptus forests.

Breeding takes place in October and November, and courtship can start six weeks before the first egg is laid. These are cavity nesters, with their nests being in eucalyptus trees. Females lay up to four eggs per clutch. Chicks remain in the nest for up to a month, but often stay with their family group to help in raising more young.

Did You Know?

  • Laughing kookaburra sounds are often associated with Hollywood films, which have long used their call to represent jungle noises.
  • They received their nickname, “bushman’s alarm clock”—from their laughter-like call, which often comes at early dawn and dusk.
  • They are sit-and-wait predators known to feed even on long venomous snakes. They also eat insects, small mammals, and other reptiles.
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We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

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