Kookaburra

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For the shovel-billed kookaburra, see Clytoceyx.
For other uses, see Kookaburra (disambiguation).
Kookaburra
Dacelo novaeguineae waterworks.jpg
Laughing kookaburra in Tasmania, Australia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Halcyonidae
Genus: Dacelo
Leach, 1815
Species

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Kookaburras are terrestrial tree kingfishers of the genus Dacelo native to Australia and New Guinea, which grow to between 28–42 cm (11–17 in) in length. The name is a loanword from Wiradjuri guuguubarra, onomatopoeic of its call. The single member of the genus Clytoceyx is commonly referred to as the shovel-billed kookaburra.

The kookaburra's loud call sounds like echoing human laughter. 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.[citation needed]

Classification and species[edit]

Four species of kookaburra can be found in Australia, New Guinea, and the Aru Islands.

Kookaburras are sexually dimorphic. This is noticeable in the blue-winged and the rufous-bellied, where males have blue tails and females have reddish-brown tails.

Unusually for close relatives, the laughing and blue-winged species are direct competitors in the area where their ranges now overlap.[citation needed] This suggests that these two species evolved in isolation (possibly during a period when Australia and New Guinea were more distant – see Australia-New Guinea.

Behaviour[edit]

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.[1]

They are territorial, except for the rufous-bellied, which often live with their young from the previous season.[2] They often sing as a chorus to mark their territory.

Three newly hatched kookaburra chicks

Conservation[edit]

All kookaburra species are listed as Least Concern. Australian law protects native birds including kookaburras.

In culture[edit]

Olly the Kookaburra was one of the three mascots chosen for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. The other mascots were Millie the Echidna and Syd the Platypus.

The distinctive sound of the laughing kookaburra's call is used in filmmaking and television productions, as well as certain Disney theme park attractions, regardless of where in the world the action is set. Kookaburras have also appeared in video games (Lineage II, Battletoads, and World of Warcraft) and at least in one short story (Barry Wood's Nowhere to Go).

In William Arden's 1969 book, The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow, (one of 'The Three Investigators' series for young readers), the laughing kookaburra is integral to the plot.

The children's television series Splatalot! includes an Australian character called "Kookaburra" (or "Kook"), whose costume includes decorative wings that recall the bird's plumage, and who is noted for his distinctive high-pitched laugh.

Music[edit]

BFD Records and BFD Productions, which are the distributors and/or copyright holders of most of the garage rock and psychedelic rock compilation albums in the Pebbles (series), have the address Kookaburra, Australia.

Postage stamps[edit]

B.C.O.F. kookaburra stamp first issued in 1946.
  • A six pence stamp was issued in 1914.
  • A three pence commemorative Australian stamp was issued for the 1928 Melbourne International Philatelic Exhibition,
  • A six pence stamp issued in 1932.
  • A 38c Australian stamp issued in 1990 features a pair of kookaburras.[3]

Coins[edit]

An Australian coin known as the Silver Kookaburra minted annually since 1990.[4]

Yacht[edit]

The Australian 12 metre yacht Kookaburra III lost the America's Cup in 1987.[5]

Hockey[edit]

The Australian Men's Hockey team is named after the kookaburra. They are currently (as of 2014) world champions in field hockey.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Giles, Jennie (1994). "Caring for Wild Birds in Captivity Series (Adelaide and Environs): Caring for Kookaburras" (PDF). Bird Care & Conservation Society South Australia Inc. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Legge, Sarah (2004). Kookaburra: King of the Bush. Collingwood, Vic: CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 978-0-643-09063-7. OCLC 223994691. 
  3. ^ Bird Stamps of Australia
  4. ^ "Australian Kookaburra". Silver Bullion World. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Maritime Topics On Stamps, America Cup, Sailing
  6. ^ Hockey Australia: Kookaburras

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]