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For the shovel-billed kookaburra, see Clytoceyx.
For other uses, see Kookaburra (disambiguation).
Dacelo novaeguineae waterworks.jpg
Laughing kookaburra in Tasmania, Australia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Halcyonidae
Genus: Dacelo
Leach, 1815

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Kookaburras (genus Dacelo) are terrestrial tree kingfishers native to Australia and New Guinea, which grow to between 28–42 cm (11–17 in) in length. The name is a loanword from Wiradjuri guuguubarra, onomatopoeic of its call. The single member of the genus Clytoceyx is commonly referred to as the shovel-billed kookaburra.

The kookaburra's loud call sounds like echoing human laughter. They are found in habitats ranging from humid forest to arid savanna, as well as in suburban areas with tall trees or near running water. Even though they belong to the larger group known as "kingfishers", kookaburras are not closely associated with water.[citation needed]

Classification and species[edit]

Four species of kookaburra can be found in Australia, New Guinea, and the Aru Islands.

Kookaburras are sexually dimorphic. This is noticeable in the blue-winged and the rufous-bellied, where males have blue tails and females have reddish-brown tails.

Unusually for close relatives, the laughing and blue-winged species are direct competitors in the area where their ranges now overlap.[citation needed] This suggests that these two species evolved in isolation (possibly during a period when Australia and New Guinea were more distant – see Australia-New Guinea.


Kookaburras are carnivorous. Kookaburras are known to eat the young of other birds, mice, snakes, insects and small reptiles. They have also been known to take goldfish from garden ponds. In zoos they are usually fed food for birds of prey.

The most social birds will accept handouts from humans and will take meat from barbecues. It is generally not advised to feed kookaburras meat regularly as it does not include calcium and other nutrients essential to the bird. Remainders of mince on the bird's beak can fester and cause problems.[citation needed]

They are territorial, except for the rufous-bellied, which often live with their young from the previous season.[1] They often sing as a chorus to mark their territory.

Three newly hatched kookaburra chicks
An albino kookaburra


All kookaburra species are listed as Least Concern. Australian law protects native birds including kookaburras.

In culture[edit]

Olly the Kookaburra was one of the three mascots chosen for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. The other mascots were Millie the Echidna and Syd the Platypus.

The distinctive sound of the laughing kookaburra's call is used in filmmaking and television productions, as well as certain Disney theme park attractions, regardless of where in the world the action is set. Kookaburras have also appeared in video games (Lineage II, Battletoads, and World of Warcraft) and at least in one short story (Barry Wood's Nowhere to Go).

In William Arden's 1969 book, The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow, (one of 'The Three Investigators' series for young readers), the laughing kookaburra is integral to the plot.

The children's television series Splatalot! includes an Australian character called "Kookaburra" (or "Kook"), whose costume includes decorative wings that recall the bird's plumage, and who is noted for his distinctive high-pitched laugh.


BFD Records and BFD Productions, which are the distributors and/or copyright holders of most of the garage rock and psychedelic rock compilation albums in the Pebbles (series), have the address Kookaburra, Australia.

Postage stamps[edit]

A kookaburra stamp first issued in 1937.
  • A six pence stamp was issued in 1914.
  • A three pence commemorative Australian stamp was issued for the 1928 Melbourne International Philatelic Exhibition,
  • A six pence stamp issued in 1932.
  • A 38c Australian stamp issued in 1990 features a pair of kookaburras.[2]


An Australian coin known as the Silver Kookaburra minted annually since 1990.[3]


The Australian 12 metre yacht Kookaburra III lost the America's Cup in 1987.[4]


The Australian Men's Hockey team is named after the kookaburra. They are currently (as of 2014) world champions in field hockey.[5]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kookaburra — Please support Wikipedia.
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10835 news items


Fri, 01 May 2015 13:54:55 -0700

Thank you to the entire community for sharing information about Gumby, the missing kookaburra. Thanks to a special Homewood Zoo supporter, Gumby is back at the Birmingham Zoo and has been reunited with his keepers. He is doing well and resting.


Thu, 30 Apr 2015 11:11:15 -0700

The Birmingham Zoo continues to ask for the public's help in locating Gumby, the missing celebrity Kookaburra. Dr. Stephanie McCain, the Director of Animal Health at the zoo told AL.com Gumby was last seen at 7 a.m. Wednesday, April 29 high up in a ...

Columbus Dispatch

Columbus Dispatch
Thu, 30 Apr 2015 07:32:54 -0700

Jack Hanna brought his family to meet David Letterman on his last Late Show appearance. The emeritus director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also brought some friends: a rather animated kookaburra and an alligator. As has happened many times ...

Silver Coins Today (blog)

Silver Coins Today (blog)
Wed, 20 May 2015 21:41:15 -0700

Normally on these coins, the kookaburra design changes annually. In celebration of the anniversary, however, these new silver coins feature the original 1990 design by Dr. Stuart Devlin. Inscribed around the scene are THE AUSTRALIAN KOOKABURRA, ...

WDSU New Orleans

WDSU New Orleans
Sat, 02 May 2015 15:07:30 -0700

Zoo officials announced Friday afternoon that Gumby the kookaburra is back home and resting after going missing earlier this week. "Thank you to the entire community for sharing information about Gumby," the zoo's Facebook page said. Gumby is one of ...

Coin Update News

Coin Update News
Tue, 12 May 2015 11:22:21 -0700

The Perth Mint has recently released the 25th Anniversary Australian Kookaburra 2015 1 oz Silver Proof High Relief Coin. The popular format features both the obverse and reverse designs of the coin rendered in stunning high relief. The year 2015 marks ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Fri, 29 May 2015 04:12:25 -0700

Other English-speaking countries, which once couldn't get past the "irritable vowel syndrome" of the accent – variously insulted as "the tuneless bleating of a sheep, the pathetic cry of a lonely crow, as raucous as a kookaburra in full cry and as flat ...


Fri, 29 May 2015 06:18:45 -0700

Anderson's 24 wickets were among the reasons England famously won in Australia for the first time in a generation, and in between whitewashes down under. He demonstrated a memorable mastery of requirements with the Kookaburra ball and in conditions ...

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