Common laughing kookaburra, catching a worm
The Laughing Kookaburra is a stocky bird of about 45 cm (18 in) in length, with a large head, a prominent brown eye, and a very large bill. The sexes are very similar, although the female averages larger and has less blue to the rump than the male. They have a white or cream-coloured body and head with a dark brown stripe through each eye and more faintly over the top of the head. The wings and back are brown with sky blue spots on the shoulders. The tail is rusty reddish-orange with dark brown bars and white tips on the feathers. The heavy bill is black on top and bone coloured on the bottom.
Recorded near Pemberton, Australia
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The name "Laughing Kookaburra" refers to the bird's "laugh", which it uses to establish territory amongst family groups. It can be heard at any time of day, but most frequently shortly after dawn and after sunset to dusk.
One bird starts with a low, hiccuping chuckle, then throws its head back in raucous laughter: often several others join in. If a rival tribe is within earshot and replies, the whole family soon gathers to fill the bush with ringing laughter. Hearing kookaburras in full voice is one of the more extraordinary experiences of the Australian bush, something even locals cannot ignore; some visitors, unless forewarned, may find their call startling.
The Kookaburra is also the subject of a popular Australian children's song, the Kookaburra.
Kookaburra sits in an old gum tree.
Merry, merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh
Kookaburra gay your life must be.
FeedingKookaburras hunt much as other kingfishers (or indeed Australasian robins) do: by perching on a convenient branch or wire and waiting patiently for prey to pass by. Common prey include mice and similar-sized small mammals, large insects, lizards, small birds and nestlings, and most famously, snakes. Small prey are preferred, but kookaburras sometimes take large creatures, including venomous snakes much longer than their bodies.
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