The Laughing Kookaburra is one of the largest and most well-known Australian kingfishers. I found this image from 2011 in my archives today and remembered that it is mostly found on the east and south-east coast of Australia.
I daresay many overseas folk know it’s famous raucous accelerating laugh.
I found this bird sitting on a garden seat in the Royal Botanic Gardens and managed to get several photos before it flew away. I don’t think I have ever been as close to a Kookaburra since, although I’ve taken many photos from some distance away.
Australia’s Kookaburra needs no introduction to most people the world over, but it’s actually called the Laughing Kookaburra (Davelo novaeguineae) to differentiate the bird from the Blue-winged Kookaburra (Davelo leachii). From what I’ve seen on the internet, I suspect some people confuse it with our Kingfishers. They seem to include the word Kingfisher in the title just as much an error (to my knowledge) as calling a Koala a Koala Bear (which is not a bear at all).
The Kookaburra’s beak is fuller and not as pointed as a Kingfisher.
I used to see and hear them regularly in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne Zoo or prior to that, when I still had a car and went bush walking, up in the country. I’ve only heard a Kookaburra once in all the 2 years since I moved to the western suburbs (and never actually seen one here, despite living next to a nature reserve and some 400 hectares of green space up and down the Maribyrnong River).
Famous for its raucous accelerating laugh, increasing in volume then fading, this youtube , despite the bird being indoors, is a little more accurate than some other YouTubes I’ve heard.
It’s a large bird, much like a Kingfisher in appearance, with a white crown, smudges and streaked brown, with distinctive dark patch through the eye.
…and here’s the same image cropped down a little so you can see it up close
Another cropped image
Its back and wings are brown, with bluish feather-edges on the shoulders, Its rump and tail chestnut with black bars.
It’s actually one of the first birds I photographed in the Royal Botanic Gardens when I took up photography, as it landed on a park bench and later, could be seen pulling up worms in the tan bark mulch on a garden bed.
But the shot below is one of my favourites for the simple reason, that the bird was about 50 feet high up an enormous tree some distance away and all I could see was a white blob lit by a bright ray of sunshine in the dark foliage.
I made a hand-held shot with my 150-500mm lens trying to guess where the head might be near the top of the white blob and was amazed to see, on downloading the image to my 27″ screen, that I’d actually captured a Kookaburra and it was in relatively sharp focus. I must have been holding the heavy telephoto lens very stead that day.
….and another shot of a Kookaburra in the wild (below) – Dandenong Ranges National Park – located in the low range of hills overlooking the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. It’s a bit far away to see much detail, but I was glad to photograph it in the wild, as opposed to my local urban area.