Largest Kingfisher – instantly recognised by its voice and plumage. Massive bill, black above, horn below. Dark eye-strip, large pale head, brown spots, crown patch. Back, wings are brown, wings mottled pale blue, often blue rump. Tail barred rufous-brown and black, edged with white, plain white below.
Families of 4-8 birds. Feed mostly on insects, worms and crustaceans however they can also consume small snakes, mammals, frogs and birds. Prey is caught by pouncing from their perch. Large prey is killed by bashing it against the ground or tree branch, small prey is eaten whole.
Confusion of identification only occurs where their habitat overlaps that of the Blue Winged Kookaburra, which lacks the brown eye strip, has a blue tail and blue on its wing and its voice is coarser and ends abruptly.
Size: 40-48 cm
Location: Found throughout eastern Australia, introduced into Tasmania, the extreme south-west of Western Australia and New Zealand.
Habitat: Open forest, woodlands, will inhabit most areas where there are suitable trees.
Voice: Raucous ‘koo-koo-ka-ka-kook chorus
Breeding: Laughing Kookaburras are believed to pair for life. Nests are a bare chamber in a naturally occurring tree hollow or a burrow excavated in an arboreal (tree dwelling termite mound).
Both sexes share incubation duties and care for the young. Every bird in the group shares parenting duties.
Acknowledgement: Field Guide to the Birds of Australia Authors: Simpson & Day, www.birdlife.org.au