We all know the Laughing Kookaburra, with its beautiful plumage, raucous laugh and its reputation as being the larrikin of the Aussie bird world. It is the largest member of the Kingfisher family and feeds mostly on insects, worms and crustaceans, although small snakes, mammals, frogs and birds may also be eaten. They will sit patiently on perches waiting for a suitable meal to come along and then will pounce on them from above with small prey being eaten whole and larger prey being killed by bashing it against the ground or a tree branch.
And that bill? What an amazing piece of equipment it is - almost as long as the length of its head and a very efficient killing implement!
But how well do we really know the Laughing Kookaburra? Here's some interesting facts - many of which I wasn't aware of.....so next time you see one of these iconic birds, take a minute longer to marvel at the brilliance of its evolution!
Its feathers are thicker, with about 25% better insulation than other birds of its size
In order to conserve energy it flies slowly and also lowers its metabolism and body temperature by up to 9.1°C (16.4°F) during the night
The average lifespan of a kookaburra is about 15 years
The family unit consist of a monogamous male and female together with up to 6 helper birds. These helper birds are older generations of offspring who help their parents to care for the next generation of offspring
Kookaburras don't usually drink water as they get enough water from their food. They do, however, love to bathe. This is probably a characteristic from their primordial past as kingfishers
The word kookaburra comes from Wiradjuri Aboriginal word guuguubarra
Usually, the first egg to be laid in a clutch will be a male and the second egg will be a female
There is a high level of siblicide (killing a brother or sister) among kookaburra hatchings. The third chick rarely survives, usually being attacked by the other two chicks resulting in a 50% death rate of the third chick
Researchers have found that members of a family unit laugh in a similar manner, as though they are all laughing from the same "hymn sheet"
The Kookaburra's laugh is a social behaviour and if it is held in captivity alone it will not laugh