The Kookaburra

Kookaburras are terrestrial tree kingfishers, native to Australia and New Guinea, which grow to between 28–42 cm (11–17 in) in length. The loud distinctive call of the laughing kookaburra is widely used as a stock sound effect in situations that involve an Australian bush setting.

They are found in habitats ranging from humid forest to arid savanna, as well as in suburban areas with tall trees or near running water. Even though they belong to the larger group known as “kingfishers”, kookaburras are not closely associated with water.

The Kookaburra
The Kookaburra

Kookaburras are almost exclusively carnivorous, eating mice, snakes, insects, small reptiles, and the young of other birds; they have also been known to take goldfish from garden ponds. In zoos they are usually fed food for birds of prey.

The most social birds will accept handouts and will take meat from barbecues. It is generally not advised to feed kookaburras ground beef or pet food, as these do not include enough calcium and roughage.

They are territorial, except for the rufous-bellied, which often live with their young from the previous season. They often sing as a chorus to mark their territory.

The Kookaburra Song

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra, Gay your life must be!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Eating all the gumdrops he can see
Stop, Kookaburra, Stop, Kookaburra
Leave some there for me.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Counting all the monkeys he can see
Stop, Kookaburra, Stop, Kookaburra,
That’s no monkey, that’s me.

Marion Sinclair, 1932


  1. We have kookaburras up in the big gum trees across the road. I love hearing them as the sun is setting, makes me feel at home. Only once have we had one come into our yard close enough to see though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Baldy says:

      They’re a lovely bird, albeit a little odd looking lol

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Heh, during my first grade, we had an Australian teacher and she taught us that song 😊.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Baldy says:

      My only memory of singing at school is being told to be quiet, or to get out of the room 😂😂


  3. scifihammy says:

    Great info and photo. 🙂 We sang this song at Girl Guides when I was a kid in the UK. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a funny name! Never heard about them…thx for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Leya says:

    I love them – especially what you call odd looking!

    Liked by 1 person

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