Saturday, January 29, 2011

Laughing Kookaburra

(Image Source)
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order : Coraciiformes
Family : Halcyonidae
Genus : Dacelo
Species : novaeguineae

Length : 18in (45cm)
Weight : 1lb (.5kg)

IUCN Status : Least Concern

The Laughing Kookaburra is one of the most iconic animals in Australia, and is native to the eastern side of the continent, though they have been introduced elsewhere. They are most commonly found in open woodlands where breeding pairs establish a year-round territory.

Laughing Kookaburras get their name from their interesting laugh-like call. This call is most often heard at dawn and dusk, and is used to announce territories. This timed laughing behavior has earned them the nickname of "Bushman's Clock." Laughing Kookaburras also produce other sounds for situations like courtship and aggression.

Juvenile Kookaburra
The Laughing Kookaburra is actually the largest member of the Kingfisher family, though they don't really eat all that much fish.  They prefer instead to feed off of reptiles and invertebrates, which they snatch up with their large (up to 4in long) beaks.

There is a strong bond within Kookaburra families. Pairs mate for life and remain in the same territory, using the same nest year after year. Young Laughing Kookaburras are helpless and naked, and don't even open their eyes for three weeks. After fledging, the juveniles often hang around for a few years, assisting their parents with future broods before establishing territories of their own.

Kookaburras are quite the cultural figures in their native land. They are the subject of a popular childrens song, have had coins and stamp featuring their likeness, and they were even one of the three animals selected as mascots for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

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