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Laughing Kookaburra

(Dacelo novaeguineae)
Alternate name(s): "Brown Kingfisher", "Great Kingfisher", "Giant Kingfisher", "Laughing Jackass", "Bushman's Clock", "Settler's Clock"
Aboriginal name(s): "gugurrgaagaa" [gamilaraay, yuwaalaraay]

Size: 40-47 cm
Weight: 340 g (average)

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Laughing Kookaburra at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information


Race "novaeguineae"

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .


Close-up portrait of a "sausage thief" (photo courtesy of Y. English)
[Gosford, NSW, October 2008]

This adult Laughing Kookaburra is waiting to be fed by a human benefactor (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2013]

Frontal view of a Laughing Kookaburra
[Sydney, NSW, April 2006]

Near-frontal view of a Laughing Kookaburra following the observer
[Moree, NSW, November 2011]

Near-frontal view of a Laughing Kookaburra sitting on a rock, unafraid of the photographer (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2013]

Laughing Kookaburra with its head turned (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2013]

Lateral portrait of a Laughing Kookaburra (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Gilgandra, NSW, April 2014]

Lateral portrait of a Laughing Kookaburra
[Yarrie Lake, NSW, August 2013]

Lateral portrait of a calling Laughing Kookaburra (photo courtesy of T. Lawrence)
[Long Beach, NSW, 2003]

Lateral view of a Laughing Kookaburra perched in a Cypress pine
[Yarrie Lake, NSW, August 2013]

Lateral view of a Laughing Kookaburra
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, May 2006]

Near-dorsal view of a Laughing Kookaburra (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Loch McNess, Yanchep NP, near Perth, WA, January 2015]

Close-up dorsal view of a Laughing Kookaburra (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2013]

Dorsal view of a Laughing Kookaburra
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, March 2006]

Laughing Kookaburra preening
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2008]

Laughing Kookaburra displaying its crest

Laughing Kookaburra hunting off a perch
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

THAT's a bill!
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

The same Laughing Kookaburra as above
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2008]

This Laughing Kookaburra is seen issuing the rollicking call just before the big cackle starts
[Moree, NSW, November 2011]

The Laughing Kookaburra on the left told a joke, then both started laughing... these two made a racket that could be heard more than half a kilometre away
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

Family of Laughing Kookaburras in the top of a dead tree
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, March 2009]

Laughing Kookaburra twin share

Pair of Laughing Kookaburras posing for the camera (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Gilgandra, NSW, April 2014]

No, this is not a Laughing Kookaburra with a taste for fashion accessories; rather, it has got a pesky Willie Wagtail on its tail
[Limeburners Creek NP, NSW, October 2013]

Laughing Kookaburras roosting in a River Red Gum; note that the bird on the right has not quite digested its dinner (a lizard) yet
[Near Gurley, NSW, December 2013]


Immature Laughing Kookaburra honing its hunting skills; note the prominent barring on head and front and the dark lower mandible characterising this as a young bird
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2010]

Colour variations

Laughing Kookaburras are subject to the occasional colour deviation from normal. Two effects known by us to have been observed are "albinism" (lack of colour pigmentation) and "hyper-melanism" (excess colour pigmentation). The third possibility ("albinism"; colour pigmentation deficiency) has not yet been observed by, or reported to, us.


Here a bit of a rarity: Two slightly different views of an albino Laughing Kookaburra; locals from the area where the bird was seen report that there appears to be a clan which regularly produces albinos. Another albino was later seen by us in the township of Narrabri
[Near Narrabri, NSW, August 2006]


Near-frontal view of a "Black Kookaburra" - an hyper-melanistic Laughing Kookaburra, with excess colour pigmentation; a second Black Kookaburra was seen at the time (photo courtesy of M. Adam-Cross)
[Yarramundi, NSW, August 2013]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Dec Eggs: 2 - 4 Incubation period: 23 - 25 days Fledging age: 32 - 37 days


"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Tree hollow Material: N/A Height above ground: 3 - 10 m

Instead of tree hollows Laughing Kookaburras sometimes also use arboreal termite nests for nesting. They do not line their nests.

View of the entrance to a Laughing Kookaburra's nest hollow (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Here the owner of the nest (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

In this tree a pair of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos makes use of the presence of Laughing Kookaburras; the large opening is used by the kookaburras, the smaller one in the upper left corner by the cockatoos
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, October 2011]

Most Laughing Kookaburras choose nesting hollows with very wide openings; however, this one is barely wide enough for a bird to enter and the hollow inside must be wider than the opening
[Near Narrabri, NSW, December 2011]


"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 45 x 36 mm Colour: White Shape: Rounded


Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary Elementary unit: Family clan

We once noticed how a Laughing Kookaburra called its mates for help when a Whistling Kite came onto the scene. Together the 10-12 Kookaburras hustled the big raptor out of their territory.

Laughing Kookaburra going back to its roots, hunting for fish from a coastal cliff
[Little Nobby, Crescent Head, NSW, October 2013]

How does a Laughing Kookaburra ensure that its voice can be heard far and wide? It uses a PA system...!
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, March 2016]

Food, Diet

Laughing Kookaburras are versatile hunters on land. They will take anything from snakes and lizards to mice, large insects and chicks of other bird species. They are feared by other bird species in the bush.

This Laughing Kookaburra is proving that it is a kingfisher, having caught a yabbie (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Mt. Tamborine NP, Gold Coast, QLD, April 2015]

"Too late to pray" - Praying Mantis falling prey to a Laughing Kookaburra (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Mudgeeraba, Gold Coast, QLD, September 2010]

Laughing Kookaburra taking a lizard (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Mudgeeraba, Gold Coast, QLD, September 2004]

Laughing Kookaburras can become very tame when fed; here one with minced meat (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2014]

Laughing Kookaburra prize - "Ha, took that off that human!" (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Mudgeeraba, Gold Coast, QLD, January 2013]

Laughing Kookaburra meal, skinned but not boned... (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Mudgeeraba, Gold Coast, QLD]

Laughing Kookaburra with a fair-size meal, a rat (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2013]


For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

lkooka_art_20131204.mp3 novaeguineae
Contact call(?) © ART
lkooka_20150920.mp3 novaeguineae
Pair Q&A © MD
lkooka_20160920.mp3 novaeguineae
Clan Q&A © MD
lkooka_art_20131212.mp3 novaeguineae
Clan-to-clan Q&A © ART

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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