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Photographed in my backyard at Denhams Beach, New South Wales, Australia.
Laughing Kookaburra : Dacelo novaeguineae
The Laughing Kookaburra is Australia’s most instantly recognisable bird in both plumage and voice. It is generally off-white below, faintly barred with dark brown, and brown on the back and wings. The tail is more rufous, broadly barred with black. There is a conspicuous dark brown eye-stripe through the face. It is one of the larger members of the kingfisher family, the average size being 42cms.
Laughing Kookaburras are found throughout eastern Australia. They have been introduced to Tasmania, the extreme south-west of Western Australia, and New Zealand.
The Laughing Kookaburra inhabits most areas where there are suitable trees and feeds mostly on insects, worms and crustaceans, although small snakes, mammals, frogs and birds may also be eaten. Prey is seized by pouncing from a suitable perch. Small prey is eaten whole, but larger prey is killed by bashing it against the ground or tree branch.
Laughing Kookaburras are believed to pair for life. The nest is a bare chamber in a naturally occurring tree hollow or in a burrow excavated in an arboreal (tree-dwelling) termite mound. Both sexes share the incubation duties and both care for the young. Other Laughing Kookaburras, usually offspring of the previous one to two years, act as ‘helpers’ during the breeding season. Every bird in the group shares all parenting duties.
Laughing Kookaburras often become quite tame around humans and will readily accept scraps of meat. This ‘pre-processed’ food is still beaten against a perch before swallowing.
Edited from The Australian Museum website, “Birds in Backyards”.