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Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) Fact Sheet, 2012   Tags: australia, bird, cooperative breeding, egg, fact sheet, kingfisher, kookaburra, laugh, nest, new zealand, san diego zoo, sdzg, territory  

Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) Fact Sheet, 2012

Laughing Kookaburra

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Coraciiformes (kingfishers, hoopoes, bee-eaters, hornbills, rollers)

Family: Alcedinidae (kingfishers)

Genus: Dacelo

Species: Dacelo novaeguineae (Laughing Kookaburra)

Subspecies: D. n. minor
Subspecies: D. n. novaeguineae

Body Weight
Male: 196-450 g (6.9-15.9 oz)
Female: 190-465 g (6.7-16.4 oz)

Body Length
41-45 cm (16.1-17.7 in)

White head and chest. Dark crown and eyeband. Bluw spots on some wing feathers. Black bands across a reddish-brown tail.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Native to Australia.
Introduced to parts of Australia and New Zealand.

Eucalyptus forest and woodland; wooded and cleared farmland; other suburban areas or urbanized area with suitable vegetation.

IUCN Status
Least Concern

CITES Appendix
Not listed.

Population in Wild
Stable. An estimated 65 million individuals in 2009.

Relatively slow fliers. Feet relatively weak (while on tree branches/at nest).

Activity Cycle
Diurnal. Active during the day; roost an averag of 12 hours at night.

Social Groups
Cooperative breeders

Feed on animals on or near the ground. Specific diet varies by habitat.
Insects, spiders, small retiles, worms, crabs and crayfish, frogs, fish; less often snakes small mammals, birds.

Chicks preyed on by quolls, goannas, olive pythons.
Adults preyed on by by whistling kites and goshawks.
Other possible predators: greater gliders, possums, cats, foxes, phascogales (carnivorous marsupial), and many kinds of birds (butcher birds, ravens, magpies)

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity
Sexual maturity at 1 year; breeding usually delayed for several years.

Incubation period
About 25 days

Clutch Size
Usually 3 eggs (range 1-5)

Interval between eggs being laid
1-2 days, up to 4 days

Age at Fledging
33-39 days

12-15 years

Feature Facts

  • Laughing Kookaburras call in a group to advertise their presence as territory holders
  • Complex social lives; breeding pairs assisted by up to 6 "helper birds"
  • Breeding pairs stay together for many years
  • Need large trees with hollows for nesting
  • Chicks are aggressive, even to siblings
  • Kookaburra beat their prey against branches or the ground to immobilize it
  • Adult koookaburras can eat venemous snakes

About This Fact Sheet

© 2012 San Diego Zoo Global. Minor conservation updates 2016.

How to cite: Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) Fact Sheet, 2012. c2012-2016. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(Note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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