|Scientific name||Dacelo novaeguineae|
|Length||18 inches (46 centimeters)|
|Beak length||4 inches (10 centimeters)|
|Wingspan||20 to 24 inches (50.8 to 61.0 centimeters)|
|Weight||1 pound (455 grams)|
|Life span||11 to 20 years|
|Incubation||24 to 29 days|
|Number of eggs||1 to 5 eggs|
|Age of maturity||1 year|
Where does the lion really sleep tonight?
The kookaburra usually roosts in treetops at dusk. As it joins with other family members, a noisy chorus of laughing sounds can be heard. As dawn breaks, the family’s raucous chorus sounds again. Such morning sounds are often referred to as a “bushman’s clock.” • The kookaburra often sits on an exposed perch such as dead branches in open, wooded areas or on power lines. From its vantage point, Dacelo novaeguineae searches for prey. After locating its prey, the kookaburra swoops down and captures it on the ground. Before eating, it pounds the catch against a tree branch, log or rock, which tenderizes the meat.
A matter of pride
Nests are usually in tree holes, hollow tree trunks, or excavated arboreal (tree-dwelling) termite mounds – without any nesting materials being used. • Breeding season is usually from August to January. The female lays 2-4 pure white eggs. • Both sexes share the incubation duties during the 24 -26 day incubation period. The chicks are naked and blind when they hatch. Both parents care for their young, especially for the first 30 days. Even though the chicks often fledge (leave the nest) after 1 month, the parents and helpers continue to care for them for a few months more. • Kookaburra offspring may remain within their family group for several years, helping with and protecting their younger siblings
But the females are tough too!
Dacelo novaeguineae assists humans by reducing the insect population when insect outbreaks occur. • Its nicknames include Laughing Jackass and Great Brown Kingfisher. • It is of value to Australians because it will even prey on venomous snakes. • In many of the old Tarzan movies, the jungle sounds of Africa included the call of the laughing kookaburra, which lives nowhere near Africa. • A legend from the Australian aborigines states: When the sun rose for the first time, the god Bayame ordered the laughing kookaburra to utter its loud, almost human laughter in order to wake up mankind so that they should not miss the wonderful sunrise. • The Australian aborigines also believed that any child who insulted a laughing kookaburra would grow an extra slanting tooth.
Don’t touch the hair!
Laughing kookaburra are the largest of the kingfishers. Males have an average weight of 307g, while females are slightly larger at an average of 352g. Kookaburras are generalists and will eat anything they are able to swallow. Insects, arthropods and small reptiles, such as skinks, make up the majority of their diet. In some areas, mollusks, crustaceans, frogs and fish are also consumed. Although kookaburras are kingfishers, fish is not a major component of their diet, and some individuals may never have access to that source of food if their territory lacks a pond or stream. Small birds, mammals and snakes are taken less often. When living in close proximity to humans, kookaburras are well known to accept food scraps and other offerings and will readily come down to an occupied picnic table or kitchen window for hand-outs. Similar to birds of prey, indigestible components of the diet (hair, exoskeletons, etc.) are regurgitated in the form of a cast. Kookaburras most commonly nest in existing horizontal tree cavities located in large eucalyptus trees. Unlike woodpeckers, they are not capable of excavating new nest holes, thus making them reliant on the presence of natural cavities (i.e. from broken tree branches, fire scars, etc.) for nesting. Their weak legs and feet prevent them from nesting in vertical cavities since they are unable to climb up steep cavity walls like parrots. Nests can be located as low as ground level but are typically higher up (some recorded as high as 180 feet). When natural tree cavities are lacking in a territory, kookaburras have been known to nest in termite mounds, haystacks, or holes in a wall.
Kookaburra are a least concern species.
No effort is too small!