This well-known bird is an iconic Australian species and is known for its ‘laughing’ call. This kookaburra has dark brown wings with white underpart and head. It has brown stripes near the eyes that run across its face and its upper bill is black. Its tail is distinctive, being reddish brown with black bars across it. It is around 45cm from beak to tail tip and compared to other Kingfishers it is considered large. All Kingfishers have the same look which includes stout bodies with large heads and long, strong beaks.
The laughing kookaburra lives in eucalypt forests, open woodlands, or on the edges of plains in Eastern Australia. They need tree hollows to nest in and so need nest site availability to reproduce.
Kookaburras can often be seen sitting in a tree looking over grasslands or bushland. They use a ‘wait and swoop’ technique to catch prey. Once they see the prey the kookaburra swoops down and grabs it with its beak. Larger prey items such as snakes are hit against trees and rocks to kill, soften or break into smaller pieces before they swallow it. Kookaburras also forage through leaf litter looking for insects. Snakes, fish, rodents, lizards, chicks, snails, worms and insects are included in their diet.
Laughing kookaburras are monogamous,which means they only have one mate that they breed and nest with. They are extremely territorial birds that nest in tree hollows and have also been seen nesting in termite mounds in large trees. Female kookaburras can lay up to 5 eggs which are cared for by their parents but also siblings from the previous clutch who are still with their parents learning where to find food, what to eat and the dangers of their environment.
Conservation status: Least Concern
Laughing Kookaburras have a large range across Eastern Australia and so are classed as Least Concern however there are threats to this species;
• Deforestation of trees with hollows which they need to nest in.
• Poisoning from pesticides. When humans use pesticides to kill insects the poison as well as the insect is ingested by insect-eating birds. This poison is stored in the bird’s fat and when conditions are not ideal or there is a food shortage this fat is used by the kookaburra and if there is a large quantity of poison the kookaburra can become sick, infertile or even die.