The laughing kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) is a carnivorous bird in the kingfisher family Halcyonidae. Native to eastern Australia, it has also been introduced to parts of New Zealand, Tasmania and Western Australia. Male and female adults are similar in plumage, which is predominantly brown and white. A common and familiar bird, this species of kookaburra is well known for its laughing call.
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.
Kookaburras occupy woodland territories (including forests) in loose family groups, and their laughter serves the same purpose as a great many other bird calls—to demarcate territorial borders. Most species of kookaburra tend to live in family units, with offspring helping the parents hunt and care for the next generation of offspring.
During mating season, the laughing kookaburra reputedly indulges in behaviour similar to that of awattlebird. The female adopts a begging posture and vocalises like a young bird. The male then offers her his current catch accompanied with an "oo oo oo" sound. However, some observers maintain that the opposite happens - the female approaches the male with her current catch and offers it to him. Either way, they start breeding around October/November. If the first clutch fails, they will continue breeding into the summer months.
They generally lay three eggs at about two-day intervals. If the food supply is not adequate, the third egg will be smaller and the third chick will also be smaller and at a disadvantage relative to its larger siblings. Chicks have a hook on the upper mandible, which disappears by the time of fledging. If the food supply to the chicks is not adequate, the chicks will quarrel, with the hook being used as a weapon. The smallest chick may even be killed by its larger siblings. If food is plentiful, the parent birds spend more time brooding the chicks and so the chicks are not able to fight.
Feeding:Kookaburras 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.