Throughout eastern Australia, plus southern and south-western Australia


They are found in habitats ranging from humid forest to arid savanna, as well as in suburban areas with tall trees or near running water. .


The kookaburra is the largest member of the kingfisher family and was once called the giant kingfisher. Most kingfishers are brightly colored—often blue or green—and many of them specialize in diving into streams and ponds to catch fish. The kookaburra, however, is plainly colored and rarely eats fish! It has a light beige or white head and breast with brown wings and back. The head has a brown stripe like a mask crossing each eye. The beak is heavy and boat-shaped. The kookaburra’s breast has pale gray, wavy lines, and the outsides of the wings are speckled with pale blue dots. The male often has blue above the base of the tail. Both sexes have a rusty red tail with black bars and white tips. The female is slightly larger than the male.


The kookaburra has a very special cry which it regularly shrieks at dusk and dawn. It lives in pairs but reunions of several individuals have been observed during the mating season. It is a popular bird as it loses its fear of humans quickly, even perching on their hands if offered food. The kookaburra hunts snakes by quickly hammering the head with its powerful beak and then seizing the reptile behind the neck. Its fearlessness of snakes, venomous or not, has earned it the nickname of "snake-killer".

The kookaburra is strictly carnivorous, generally feeding on a wide range of small animals.


Incubation for the kookaburra usually lasts 25 days. 2-4 eggs are laid though usually the parents will only care for the first-hatched unless conditions are exceptionally good. Only 1 brood occurs each year.

Interesting Facts:

The distinctive sound of the laughing kookaburra's call is used in filmmaking and television productions, as well as certain Disney theme park attractions, regardless of African, Asian and South American jungle settings.

Did YOU Know?    
Getting all their moisture from their food, they never need to drink water.
Class: birds
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Halcyonidae
Genus: Dacelo
Species: novaeguineae
Length: 16-18 inches
Weight: 1 lbs.
Average Lifespan: 25 years
Wild Diet: Mice, snakes, insects, small reptiles, and the young of other birds
Predators: large owls, eagles, hawks, and falcons
USFWS Status: Not Listed
CITES Status: Not Listed
Where at the Zoo? Off Exhibit: Education Animal Facility

Learn more about birds or animals from Australasia!
Or, cross-reference the two!