Laughing Kookaburra Laughing Kookaburra
Laughing Kookaburra

Scientific Classification

Common Name
laughing kookaburra, kookaburra
Genus Species
Dacelo (an anagram of alcedo – a kingfisher ) novaeguineae (from New Guinea)

Fast Facts

The laughing kookaburra is the largest of the kingfishers. It has a large bill that has a black upper mandible (top beak), and a tan lower mandible. The laughing kookaburra also has a white belly, a whitish head, brown wings, a brown back and dark brown eye-stripes.
Up to 45 cm (18 in.) in length
196 to 465 g (6.9 to 16.4 oz)
Carnivorous; eats insects, amphibians, small reptiles, and crabs
Approximately 20 to 22 days
Clutch Size
2 to 3 eggs
Sexual Maturity
Approximately 12 months
Life Span
Averages 15 years
Eastern Australia and Tasmania
Primarily forests
IUCN: Least Concern
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

The laughing kookaburra got its common name from the loud territorial sound that it makes. The calls are often mistaken for many different animals, such as donkeys or monkeys.

In many of the old Tarzan movies, the jungle sounds were often recordings of the laughing kookaburra call, which lives nowhere near Africa.

Laughing kookaburras are the largest member of the kingfisher family. Members of the kingfisher family are found all over the world and are some of the only bird species known to be able to hover.

Laughing kookaburras have a complex social structure. A pair may remain in a semi-monogamous relationship with helpers to assist with the care of the young. These helpers may be young from a previous mating who are learning parental care while helping their parents, or they could also be an unrelated pair who is waiting for a shot at the territory.

Ecology and Conservation

Laughing kookaburras are fairly adaptable in their habitat but they do require forest areas for finding food and nesting. They benefit from living within Australia, a country that has some of the strictest animal control laws in the world. The habitats, however, are not as strongly protected as the animals.

As small carnivores, kookaburras play an integral role in the ecosystem by controlling small animal populations.


Gotch, A.F. Birds: Their Latin Names Explained. Poole: Blandford Press, 1981.

Macdonald, J.D. Birds of Australia. Sydney: A.H. & A.W. Reed PTY Ltd., 1973.

Perrins, C. M. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1990.

BirdLife International 2016. Dacelo novaeguineae . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22683189A92977835. Downloaded on 09 March 2020.