Kookaburra Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Kookaburras have a kooky sounding name and a silly sounding call, but when kookaburras are singing, they are being very serious. Learn about the kookaburra and how it uses its laughing call to protect its territory.

What Is a Kookaburra?

The kookaburra is a large bird; in fact, it is the biggest member of the kingfisher family. It can grow to be up to 18 inches in length. It's a strong looking bird with a large head and big beak. The typical kookaburra has a white head and belly with brown feathers on its wings and back. Depending on the species of kookaburra, there might be some blue feathers on the wings and tail.

A kookaburra with blue wings

Where Do They Live?

Kookaburras live in Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania in small family groups. They are happy to live in the forests and open woodlands, but can also be found living around people in suburban areas.

Adult kookaburras mate for life and some of their grown young stick around for a while. The mating pair tends to stay in the same nesting area year after year and family members pitch in when there are new chicks to raise.

Kookaburras are territorial, which means they protect their living area and prevent other kookaburras from moving in. They use their loud call to let other kookaburras know the boundaries of their property and warn them not to enter. The call, which is done at both sunrise and sunset, sounds like a person laughing and is what makes kookaburras so special. In fact, one species of kookaburra is called the laughing kookaburra.

A kookaburra

What Do They Eat?

You learned earlier that the kookaburra is a member of the kingfisher family. Most kingfisher love to dive for and eat fish, but not the kookaburra. While it will eat fish, it prefers insects, mice, small reptiles and snakes.

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