Kookaburra sitting on a branch

Laughing Kookaburra

At A Glance

  • Location: Outback
  • Conservation Status: Stable
  • It may look drab, but you won't think the laughing kookaburra is ordinary after it opens its beak! Known as the bushman’s alarm clock, a laughing kookaburra vocalizes in its family group at dawn and dusk. The loud call sounds like a variety of trills, chortles, belly laughs, and hoots. It starts and ends with a low chuckle and has a shrieking "laugh" in the middle. The song is a way the bird advertises its territory. The laughing kookaburra is the largest member of the kingfisher family and was called the giant kingfisher. Most kingfishers are brightly colored and specialize in diving into streams and ponds to catch fish. The laughing kookaburra, however, is plainly colored and rarely eats fish—it eats insects, reptiles, frogs, and rodents! This remarkable bird is famous for eating snakes: grabbing one behind the head, smacking it on the ground, and swallowing it headfirst.

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