Blue Winged Kookaburra. North Queensland, Australia.

Ralph de Zilva

Cedar Creek, Australia

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Sold A Print on 09.12.2012

Nikon D700 & Nikkor 80-400mm lens
@ 400mm

1463 views, 145 comments, favourited by 36 & 7 features as at 02.09.2013

Top Ten in the group – “The Birds” challenge on 22.08.2013

Featured in
Australia At Large on 01.09.2013
Animal & Wild Bird Photography on 27.08.2013
Love These Creatures on 12.08.2013
Closeups In Nature on 11.08.2013
The Birds
Playful & Photographic Animals
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The Blue-winged Kookaburra is a large kingfisher with a big square head and a long bill. It has a distinctive pale eye. The head is off-white with brown streaks, the shoulders are sky blue and it has a uniform blue rump.The throat is plain white and the underparts are white with faint scalloped orange-brown bars.The back is mid brown. Males have a dark blue tail while females’ tails are barred red-brown or blackish. Otherwise the sexes are similar. The legs and feet are grey and the bill is dark above and yellowish below. Juveniles have paler streaks on the head with darker mottlings. There is slight geographical variation with plumage more buff in north-western Australia (race clifoni). The Blue-winged Kookaburra is also known as the Barking or Howling Jackass or Leach’s Kookaburra. As they are shy and often quiet in the foliage they may be overlooked.

Similar species
The Laughing Kookaburra, D. novaeguineae, is slightly larger with a slightly longer bill.The Blue-winged Kookaburra also has a head that is streaked white with a white rather than dark eye and no dark patch behind the eye. The Blue-winged Kookaburra has a bright blue wing patch and rump. The call is also quite different.

The Blue-winged Kookaburra is found in coastal and subcoastal areas in northwest and northeast Australia,Torres Strait and Southern New Guinea. It is widespread in the Gulf Country of Queensland extending South to about Toowoomba. It is also widespread in the top end of NorthernTerritory. It is absent from the Eighty Mile beach area in Western Australia separating the Pilbara population.

Blue-winged Kookaburras are found in tropical and subtropical open woodlands, paperbark swamps, timber on watercourses, clearings, canefields and farmlands.

Blue-winged Kookaburras are sedentary with local seasonal movements.

Blue-winged Kookaburras eat a wide range of invertebrates and vertebrates. They consume mainly insects, reptiles and frogs in the wetter months, and fish, crayfish, scorpions, spiders, snakes, earthworms and small birds and mammals at other times. After a controlled dive with their bill open, food is grabbed from the ground. The bill has a special groove near the end of the upper mandible which helps in holding prey. After returning to a perch, the prey is beaten and then swallowed. They show extra care when snakes are the prey. Pellets of undigested items are regurgitated and found beneath daytime perches, roosting sites and nests.

The nest site of the Blue-winged Kookaburra is mostly high (to about 25 m) up in natural tree hollows, sometimes in tree termite nests, or in a hole cut into the soft wood of a baobab tree. Typically, the floor of the chamber is lower than the entrance, with an overall length of 50 cm. The breeding pair share the incubation of the eggs and subsequent feeding, which extends for one to two months, and are often assisted by auxiliaries (helpers), mainly from the previous year’s clutch.

Blue-winged Kookaburras have suffered from loss of habitat resulting from land clearing, and are often killed on roads.

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