Scientific Classification: Dacelo genus
Alternative Names: tree kingfisher. The name kookaburra comes from the Aboriginal Wiradjuri word guuguubarra, and is also an onomatopea for its call.
Location: they are found in a variety of habitats around Australia, from forests to deserts.
- There are two species found in Australia – the blue-winged kookaburra (Dacelo leachii) is found mostly in the north while the laughing kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) is found in the south. In the areas where their territories overlap, they are in direct competition with each other.
- Laughing kookaburras are best known for their loud laughing call, which is usually heard at dusk and is their way of establishing their territory. Blue-winged kookaburras have more of a deep cackle.
- The laughing kookaburra is the largest of the kingfisher family, and by largest, we mean the heaviest, weighing in at close to half a kilo! Their bills are about 10cm long.
- They are carnivourous and are known to eat insects, small mammals, other birds and snakes. Watch your BBQ because they’ll steal your snags if you’re not careful.
- They can live for more than 20 years and have the same mate for life.
Cuteness Rating: they are pretty cute, but some of them can give you the crazy eye.
Danger Rating: There’s no need to be afraid. They’d probably fly off before they’d do any harm to you.
Our favourite kookaburra experience so far was while we were camping at Coobobbonee National Park in Victoria. Just as the sun was disappearing over the horizon, it began. A kooka in the distance started laughing. The calls got louder and louder as more kookas joined in and within seconds, we were completely enveloped in their hysterical chorus of laughter.
We had a more personal encounter while camping in the NSW outback. We had a resident laughing kookaburra hanging about our camp and while Juz was cooking dinner, she chucked it a piece of off-cut beef, which it pried off a branch and gobbled up.
Up north, we saw a blue-winged kookaburra in the picnic park at Lake Argyle. It was loitering around looking for scraps and wasn’t concerned with Juz walking up to take a photo.