Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)
Status: No special status.
Size: 1.5 feet in length, weight up to 1 lb.
Characteristics: Social, active by day.
Area: Australia, New Zealand.
Offspring: Two to four eggs, once or twice per year.
· The kookaburra is also known as the great brown kingfisher and the laughing jackass.
· The laughing sound of the kookaburra has been heard in the background of many Hollywood films that take place in Africa or the Amazon.
· The kookaburra is the largest kingfisher in the world, but unlike other kingfishers, they don’t eat fish.
· The blue-winged (or spangled) kookaburra is the only other species of kookaburra.
Kookaburras are extremely unique birds in many ways. They have a loud, laughing call that is heard early in the morning as well as at sunset. This early morning call has earned the kookaburra the name “bushman’s clock.” They are sociable birds and live in small groups consisting of an adult male and female, plus their offspring of various ages. They eat a meat and insect diet consisting of snakes, lizards, worms, insects, frogs, birds and rodents. The kookaburra swoops down on its victim and kills it by taking it in its beak and hitting it against a hard object, or alternatively, by dropping it from a high place. Kookaburras don’t need to drink water because they get all the moisture they need in the food they eat. These birds are well known across Australia and have adapted well to human settlements. Some can be quite tame, accepting bits of food like cheese or raw meat from human hands, and have been known to tap on the windows while making their laughing call in the early morning to wake up the human inhabitants.
The kookaburra lives in Australia, with the heaviest populations in eastern and southern Australia. It has been introduced into Tasmania and New Zealand and is a year-round resident. They live in fairly densely forested areas with water nearby. They build their nests approximately 30 feet high up within a tree hole. Kookaburras tend to be fairly territorial.
Breeding occurs between September and January. The female lays two to four pure white eggs, one day apart. The eggs are similar in size to chicken eggs. The offspring of the kookaburra live with their parents for about four years, so both the parents and the offspring take turns incubating the eggs for 24 to 26 days. The eggs hatch one day apart, in the order in which they were laid. The parents and offspring of previous clutches will go out and obtain food for the chicks. With a month, the chicks begin learning to fly, but the older family members will keep bringing them food until they reach three to four months. By this time, they will have reached full size and be identical in appearance to the adults. When full grown, they’re encouraged and expected to stay and help raise younger siblings and protect the territory, but they eventually leave to find a mate and establish their own territories. Kookaburras can live up to 20 years.