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Laughing Kookaburra - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Neil Fifer
Newcastle, Australia, August 2003
Dacelo novaeguineae

Dacelo gigas


39–42 cm (15¼-16½ in)

  • Off-white below with faint dark brown barring
  • Brown on back and wings
  • Rufous tail, broadly barred with black
  • Dark brown eye-stripe
  • Mottled blue on wings

Massive bill is 5-6 cm long.

Photo © by Stephen Powell
Halls Gap, Australia, 31 March 2013

Sexes similar


Eastern Australia. Woodlands and open forest, Cape York Peninsula to Eyre Peninsula. Introduced and established in Tasmania and south-western Western Australia.


Largest member of the kingfisher family Alcedinidae.


Photo © by jweeyh
Mt. Coot-tha, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, September 2017

There are two subspecies[1]:

  • D. n. minor:
  • North-eastern Australia (Cape York Peninsula south to Cooktown)
  • D. n. novaeguineae:


Open forests and woodlands.



Includes insects, worms and crustaceans, small snakes, mammals, frogs and birds. Small food items are eaten whole, but larger prey is first killed by striking it against a hard surface.


The nest is a bare chamber in a tree hollow or in a burrow excavated in a termite mound. Both sexes incubate the eggs and care for the young.


Song: koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-kaa-kaa-kaa


Mostly sedentary, with occasional temporary movements to exploit abundant prey.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Trek Nature
  3. Fry, C.F., Fry, K. and Harris, A. (1991). Kingfishers, Bee-eaters, and Rollers. Princeton University Press.
  4. Higgins , P.J. (editor) 1999. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand & Antarctic Birds. Volume 4, Parrots to dollarbird. Melbourne, Oxford University Press.
  5. Michaux, B. 2013. Laughing kookaburra. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz
  6. Woodall, P.F. (2019). Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55742 on 23 December 2019).

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