Photo by Melissa Marie
Iconic and instantly recognisable, in appearance and call, the laughing kookaburra can’t fail to bring a smile to your face.
Its name is a misnomer, as that cackle is not really a laugh and is in fact a territorial warning, but our bush and suburbs would not be the same without it.
Native to eastern mainland Australia, the kookaburra is part of the kingfisher family, and has been introduced to parts of New Zealand, Tasmania, and Western Australia.
They mate for life, and can be accompanied by up to five fully grown non-breeding offspring from previous years that help the parents defend their territory and raise new young.
They mainly dine on lizards, insects, worms, snakes, and mice.
Quite the talented musician, kookaburras have a tracheo-bronchial syrinx, meaning they create two sources of vibrations so they can produce two frequencies at the same time with multiple harmonics.
Young ones have to learn the laugh, with an adult male singing a short portion of the call while the offspring mimics this call, usually at first unsuccessfully.
Choir class usually lasts two weeks before the fledgling can properly sing and take part in the group chorus, so beloved by many as a sound of Australia.