Laughing kookaburra is the largest member of a kingfisher family. It is best known for the distinctive sound it emits, which perfectly resembles human laughter. It is safe to assume that everyone has heard it at least once since it is used in almost every Hollywood movie with a jungle setting.
Laughing kookaburras are native to eastern mainland Australia.
They were first described by the French naturalist and explorer Pierre Sonnerat.
Their name comes from the Wiradjuri word guuguubarra.
Wiradjuri is a traditional, Pama-Nyungan language of Aboriginal Australian people – Wiradjuri.
They are approximately 39 – 42 cm tall and weigh between 196 and 465 grams.
Males are slightly smaller and lighter than females.
They have pale heads and chests, with dark patches over their eyes.
Their beak is usually 10 cm long.
Laughing kookaburras are sexually dimorphic.
There are different visual characteristics between the two sexes – males usually have blue-hued feathers and dark blue on their tails.
Laughing kookaburras are carnivorous.
Their diet consists of rodents, insects, reptiles, birds, and snakes.
They are perfect hunters.
Laughing kookaburra sits completely motionless while observing its prey, and once it attacks, it carries its prey back to the perch and hits several times to kill and soften it. Then it eats it whole.
Their boldness in hunting snakes made them a welcome sight in suburban areas of mainland Australia.
They are widely known for their laughter.
They emit sounds resembling human laughter. Natives call them “bushman’s alarm clock”.
Apart from the distinctive laughter, laughing kookaburras have a variety of different sounds.
It all depends on the occasion – the range of calls vary whether its purpose is to show aggression, find other family member or raise an alarm.
Although laughing kookaburras are members of the kingfisher family, they are not associated with water.
Kingfishers are known for diving into ponds and streams to catch fish, but laughing kookaburras do not eat fish too often.
Their mating season starts around October or November.
Laughing kookaburras are family birds.
They pair for life and use the help of their grown younglings in the process of incubating the eggs, and feeding and protecting them from predators.
They are territorial, marking their territory by singing as a chorus.
Chicks are ready to fledge within 33 – 39 days.
However, they still rely on their family pack for food and protection.
Although laughing kookaburras inhabit mainly forest and woodlands, they are a common sight in urban and suburban areas.
They are not afraid of humans and are known for snatching food from their hands.
Their population is stable, listed as the least-concern species on the IUCN Red List.
Their laughter has been used in many Hollywood movies ever since the Tarzan series in the 1930s.
Usually, their laughter is used as a jungle soundtrack.