Laughing kookaburra

Dacelo novaeguineae

The kookaburra is a kingfisher bird native to eucalyptus forests of eastern Australia, but now found in open woodlands, orchards, parks, farmland and urban areas in much of Australia and Tasmania. It is a carnivore.

The kookaburra's name is an example of an onomatopoeia: a word that sounds like a noise. In this case, "kookaburra" sounds like the bird's call. Local people called it the guuguubarra. You have probably heard a kookaburra many times: in movies, its raucous call is used as background noise for jungle scenes.

Kookaburra behavior and facts

  • From a high perch, kookaburras survey their surroundings and then swoop down onto prey such as large insects, lizards, snakes, amphibians, small mammals, birds and fish. Small prey is killed by the crushing action of its bill. Larger prey may be whacked against a branch or dropped from high in the air to kill it.
  • Kookaburras often use old termite mounds built high in acacia trees as nest sites.
  • After fledging, young birds remain with their parents until the next breeding season.

From birth to death

  • Clutch: 2 to 4 eggs
  • Incubation: 25 to 29 days; both parents participate
  • Hatchlings are blind and near-naked.
  • Fledge: about 30 days

Vital statistics

  • Height: 18 inches
  • Weight: 17 ounces


Not listed

Laughing kookaburra, the Oregon Zoo and you

The kookaburra is part of the Birds of Prey program and is housed off-exhibit.