Geographical Range Australia
Habitat Open woodland, forests, farmlands, orchards, towns
Scientific Name Dacelo novaeguineae
Conservation Status Common

The kookaburra is the largest of the kingfishers. It also has one of the best known calls in the animal kingdom -- a rising “kook-kook-kook ka ka ka” made famous in jungle movies.

The kookaburra makes its home in the Australian bush where (as the children's song says) it often sits in "the old gum tree," the local name for a eucalyptus tree. The bird's cackling calls can be heard over great distances, where they're usually raised in a loud chorus of crazy "laughter" at dawn and dusk. In fact, the kookaburra's daily calling habits are so regular that in parts Australia it's known as the "bushman's clock."

Kookaburras mate for life and live in extended family groups. They usually occupy the same territory year-round. They nest in hollow trees, termite nests, or nooks and crevices of buildings.

Older offspring often act as “nest helpers,” bringing insects, reptiles and small mammals to the current nestlings. Kookaburras can also eat snakes up to three feet long. They stun their prey --even a poisonous snake -- by dropping it from a height or whacking it against a branch or rock with their stiff beak.

Did you know?

Aboriginal legend says the kookaburra’s call is a signal to the sky people to start the daily fire that lights the earth.