ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on April 26, 2011

The Kookaburra is a woodland kingfisher that lives in Australia and New Guinea. It's been called the "laughing jackass" because its usual note is a loud braying or barking sound.

Kookaburras are about 17 inches (43 centimeters) long. They have large heads, long bills, its plumage a mixture of white, buff, brown and black. They live in the bush (forests). Kookaburras eat caterpillars, fish, frogs, insects, small mammals, snakes, worms and even small birds. They do not build nests but live in tree holes, wher they lay two or three white shelled eggs. The male birds sometimes fiercely defend their homes.



The breeding season is September to December. The nest is built in a hollow tree or in a hole in a bank, sometimes in a chamber tunneled out of a termites' nest. The eggs are white, somewhat rounded, two to four white eggs are laid. The nestlings are fed on young of other birds, small reptiles, grubs, and large insects.

A detailed account has been given of a nesting pair in a zoo. The nest was in the hollow base of a tree and the birds tunneled out the earth below so that the nest was finally 3 inches below ground level. One egg was laid then a second the next day and a third 3 days later. Male and female shared the incubating for 25 days. Several times the hen rapped on the tree with her bill. The male responded to this by going in and relieving her at the nest. This could be compared with the kiwi's behavior. Kookaburras are vigorous in defending their nest and young.


The kookaburra will eat anything animal including large insects, crabs, fish, reptiles and birds. It will not only rob nests of wild birds but has the reputation of taking chicks and ducklings from farms. It is also has a reputation as a snake-killer, tackling snakes up to 2 feet long, seizing them behind the head, battering them senseless or killing them by dropping them from a height. Several kookaburras may combine to kill a large snake.


Kookaburras are found throughout eastern Australia from Cape York Peninsula south to Victoria and South Australia. They have been introduced to Western Australia and Tasmania. They are most likely to be located in woodland and open forests where the trees are large enough to contain their nests and where there is a reliable supply of food. Their diet includes insects, snakes, lizards, rodents and small birds.

Away from the homesteads and suburbs the kookaburra is threatened by the continued felling of trees and from the advance of human settlement. They are also harassed by introduced starlings taking over the nesting sites in hollow trees.

Both species nest in hollow trees, frequently excavating hollows for the purpose in comparatively sound wood by flying repeatedly at the one spot with stout beak a-tilt.


It is stockily built with the usual heavy head of its family and the bill is large and heavy. The kingfisher family is divided into two subfamilies, the river kingfishers and the forest kingfishers which usually live far from water; the kookaburra is the largest of the forest kingfishers. Its range is eastern and southern Australia from Cape York in the north to Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. It was introduced into Western Australia in 1898 and is established in the southwestern corner. It was introduced into Tasmania in 1905 and is firmly settled there.

The blue-winged kookaburra is less well known. Its range is the northern parts of the continent, north of a line from Shark's Bay in Western Australia to southeastern Queensland. It is also found in New Guinea. It is the same size as the laughing kookaburra, and has much the same habits, but it is less vociferous and is mainly distinguished by the blue in its wings.

The kookaburra belongs to the kingfisher family, Alcedinidae. It is classified as genus Dacelo, species D. gigas.


  • The New International Illustrated Encyclopaedia, Volume 4, 1954. Page 154.
  • Childcraft Dictionary, 1989 edition.
  • The World Book Encyclopaedia, J-K, Volume 11, 1978.
  • The Angus & Robertson Concise Australian Encyclopaedia, Second Edition, 1986.
  • The International Wildlife Encyclopedia, B.P.C. Publishing, 1968. Volume 9, Page 1258.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Well today I got a shock the 1st time in my life I have seen a black kookuburra I have photos but I dont no how to put them on computer black of all things same size as our kookasbut black with blue down its wings

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      What a fascinating little bird! Thanks for sharing this, DS.

    • J  Rosewater profile image

      J Rosewater 

      9 years ago from Australia

      Great - love your references, too. Onya!

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      9 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Great series of wildlife hubs thanks!

    • KCC Big Country profile image


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      That's the best way, darkside!

    • darkside profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      I rescued one from being splatted on the road last year. He had an injury. When I write the Capstone hub for all these Australian Animals hubs I've done I'll be speaking a lot from personal experience.

    • KCC Big Country profile image


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Now I know what a kookaburra looks like! I mentioned the Kookaburra song in the HubChallenge links forum.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)