Kookaburra: Australian Bird (Video)

I hadn’t really thought about doing a post about the kookaburra, probably because I hear them every morning, when I wake up. πŸ™‚ What inspired me to do this kookaburra post was a post I read on another blog.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary: Video, was a post Travelrat did, (check it out, he even has his own video on the sanctuary) this sanctuary of course has kookaburras, and I realized there are some people that may not know anything about this bird.

Dacelo leachii English: A male Blue-winged Koo...

Image via Wikipedia

Kookaburras are a native bird of Australia and New Guinea, and there are a few things about this bird that does make it unique, besides waking me up every morning. πŸ˜€
They are a huge bird, their total length is around 29 – 42 cm or 11- 17 inches, there is a blue-winged kookaburra as well (see photo above) but they are slightly smaller, and they are mainly found in Northern Australia. But this post is about your everyday kookaburra here in all areas of Australia.

English: Australian Kookaburra

Image via Wikipedia

Their habitat: If there is food, and a lot of trees, there you will find the kookaburra, they are often heard before seen, and it’s their voice that makes these birds unique. When I was growing up my Mum used to say, “The kookaburra’s are laughing again, someone has done something funny.” The kookaburra’s laugh, and if you have never heard them you are in for a treat when you hear the laugh in the video below.

We also have a song about the kookaburra, which every child learns in their early years, and I only recently found out that other countries teach this song to children as well. I was reading a post Little Bird Miniatures by weisserwatercolours, and this came up in comments, so for those that don’t know this song, here are the words.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree

Kookaburra sits in 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 gum drops he can see
Laugh, Kookaburra! Sing, 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 not a monkey that’s me

Awhile ago a Teacher wanted to remove the word Gay from the Kookaburra’s Song, and did so, a lot of people did not agree, and luckily the song was left as it was.
If anyone is interested to read about this incident I found an old article in Nine MSN.

This song was also trouble for the group “Men at Work” and they were sued for using some of the material from the Kookaburra Song in their hit “Land Down Under”.
I found an article about it all in the ABC news.

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86 Responses to Kookaburra: Australian Bird (Video)

  1. zannyro says:

    Love the image and info..I learned the song as a child, here in the Little old state of Indiana.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi zannyro,
      That’s amazing, I didn’t realize how many people in so many different country’s learned this song. πŸ™‚
      Thank You very much for visiting and taking the time to comment.

  2. Canberra being the Bush Capital, we have kookaburas here too. Unfortunately, not the beautiful blue-winged ones. They eat snakes, so are very useful. Some people even feed them steak. However, once you go down that path, they tend to become very demanding. They are supposed to be kingfishers but I’ve never seen one eat a fish. They are more into red meat and snakes in my experience, and are very intelligent. We have some very tall gum trees nearby and the kookaburras’ very distinctive “laugh” echoes over the ridges (the posh Canberra word for hills) and housing estates.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Lady Marilyn,
      There is one thing a lot of Aussies know, and that is if you are having a bar-b-que out in a beautiful park or a bush area, never leave your meat unattended, the kookaburras don’t care how hot the food is, I speak from experience as well. πŸ˜†
      Yes the kookaburra is carnivorous, they really love their meat, and they are very good at getting the snakes.

      • I’ve had a lot of trouble in national parks with emus snatching food off the barbeque or off fires (how they do it without burning themselves, I don’t know) but so far, no problem with kookaburras. I have a memory of my mother charging emus with a fallen branch from a gum tree. Not that it did any good. They always came back. You just have to take twice as much meat as you need for yourself when you visit the parks. Emus seem to be particularly fond of sausages.

        • magsx2 says:

          I have never come across the emu problem personally, just been lucky I guess. πŸ™‚
          That does paint a rather funny picture, a lady running with a gum tree branch telling an emu where to go, good on her for trying. πŸ˜€

  3. Barb says:

    I’m so glad you did this post, and what a quinky dink. I just looked up kookaburra habits last week to see if I could use the bird in a book chapter. You’ve given me the perfect angle. Thanks.
    I’d only learned the first verse, here in the U.S. Can’t wait to have a beer and sing the other verses.

  4. coolfeline says:

    What a wonderful post, Mags!!! I learned so much …had no idea of its size, and to hear the laughter was priceless…still smiling! πŸ™‚

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi coolfeline,
      You can’t help but laugh, if you noticed the people in the video learning about the kookaburra, you will see that they are all laughing, it has made their day, it’s wonderful that a bird can do this I think. πŸ˜€

  5. Oh my gosh, that made me laugh. Then my husband came and watched and he laughed too. That’s wonderful!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Laurie,
      They are wonderful birds, can be a bit of a pain at times, but normally you just hear the laugh in the background, and it does make you smile. πŸ™‚

  6. malc50 says:

    Thanks Mags, The Kookaburra is an Aussie icon, along with Kangaroos, Wallabies, Emus, Koalas, Platypuses (or should that be Platypi?),… Cheers.

  7. elcampeador says:

    Only wild animal that people are warned about here in the States is, or are wild bear. It is illegal to feed bears, either on purpose or by leaving food. You can be fined and/or imprisoned for doing so.
    Dunno’ how unpredictable and dangerous the emu is. However we do have the kookaburra. They laugh quite a bit and vote for Socialists. πŸ˜‰

  8. Elyse says:

    Ooh, I LOVE that song. When I was a kid I wanted to go to Europe to hear a cuckoo and to Australia to hear a kookaburra. I learned that song in Connecticut, and taught it to my son in Switzerland, along with some English neighbors. So I did my part in spreading the fun.

    And I will do some more, because it is now stuck firmly in my head!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Elyse,
      I am amazed at how wide spread the Kookaburra Song is, I think it’s great. πŸ˜€
      Oh yes it is one of those songs that is a bit hard to get out of your head, once you hear it, especially if you know it well. πŸ˜†
      At least now you can say you know what a kookaburra sounds like. πŸ™‚

  9. tempo says:

    I guess we do have them locally but hardly ever see them, when we go camping in the Flinders Ranges though we see them constantly. (the brown winged variety) Noisy things though, their song echos throughout the valleys and they raid the camp for food.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi tempo,
      Oh yes, you have to keep on eye on your food, or make sure it is sealed shut somewhere that they can’t get into it, they are pretty smart. πŸ™‚
      The blue wing kookaburra is only in the Northern parts of OZ, I have no idea why.

  10. El Guapo says:

    That’s a beautiful bird! Thanks, Magsx2!

  11. jmgoyder says:

    Love this! We have them everywhere.

  12. barb19 says:

    Love this Mags! I had the kookaburra lined up for my A-Z of Australia (K is for Kookaburra) but you beat me to it! You did a fantastic job describing our gorgeous bird, and the video was great because it gives people a chance to hear what they actually sound like – and why we say they are laughing!
    Great post, very well done.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi barb19,
      I am really sorry, I wasn’t even thinking about your A-Z, when I did the post, but K is also for Kangaroo, or Koala, and don’t forget about our beautiful King Parrot.
      It’s just that the kookaburra came up twice in 2 different blogs as I said above and that is what gave me the idea, again I am sorry Barb.

      • barb19 says:

        No worries Mags, you weren’t to know – and I laughed when I saw your post anyway, that’s why I mentioned it . . . I don’t want you to feel bad.
        You did such a good job on the Kookaburra anyway, probably better than I could have done, and it was a delight to read, I really enjoyed it.
        I have kangaroo and koala in my sights for ‘K’!

  13. barb19 says:

    btw Mags – I shared this on my FB fan page about animals – too good not to!

  14. Barb says:

    Arrrrgh. I have this song playing over and over in my head all day. I was even singing it while putting dishes in the dishwasher. Make it stop.

  15. megtraveling says:

    I learned this song in my elementary school in Lexington, Massachusetts! But I hadn’t heard it laugh until now. Thank you for this wonderful post!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi megtraveling,
      At least now you can say that you have heard the kookaburra laugh. πŸ˜€
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and Thank You for taking the time to comment.

  16. aFrankAngle says:

    Oh my …. how can the first video not bring a smile? Outstanding!!! Count me in as one who didn’t know the kookaburra song. Oh well … a lost childhood for me. Good stuff Mags!

  17. Magsx2,

    As I started reading your blog, I thought “I wonder if she knows that song!” And, then, there were the lyrics right in front of me. I recall singing this as a 6-year-old, or somewhere around that age. I think it was taught to me as a Brownie. The funny thing is that now, at 50-something, I can’t remember what I did yesterday, but I can remember the lyrics to that song! And I never knew anything about a Kookaburra, so this was fun to read and to see the video! I never imagined it to be such a big bird. In fact, I’m not sure I ever imagined it to be a bird … maybe a kind of Koala. Ha ha! Also, as I sang the song as a youngster, I envisioned the gum drop tree as one might find on the game board for Candy Land!

    Thanks, Magsx2!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi AA,
      What a shame that they didn’t have a picture of a kookaburra to show all the kids when they were teaching everyone the song. I’m sure they would of been able to get a book at the local library with a picture in it. There was really no way of you knowing that it was a bird, but at least now you know also about why the song mentions the kookaburras laugh. πŸ˜€
      Yes it is a huge bird, I was lucky to find a video with someone “holding” the kookaburra, so people could see the actual size.

  18. My daughter and I really enjoyed the song and video, she wanted to see it again and again of course.

  19. Is it safe to say that the kookaburra is plentiful and not in any danger of being on an endangered species list? They are magnificent birds and I can’t think of a better way to wake up every day as a child than with a happy laughing bird out my window. Lucky you.

    Travelrat. Love your blog. I don’t know why I have never clicked your link before but now that I have, I’m hooked. Good travels.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi EOSR,
      Oh yes, there are plenty of kookaburras around. πŸ™‚
      I am on my first cup of coffee for the morning, and as I am typing this I can hear 1 kookaburra in the background, there are 2 that love the trees just up the hill a bit from where I am, the other one “a child” will also start saying a few words shortly. πŸ˜€

  20. Wow. That is AMAZING! What a sound to wake up to every morning! holy.
    I am enjoying all these comments. THIS ONE absolutely floors me . . . “I’ve had a lot of trouble in national parks with emus snatching food off the barbeque or off fires (how they do it without burning themselves, I don’t know) but so far, no problem with kookaburras. I have a memory of my mother charging emus with a fallen branch from a gum tree. . . . ”

    I can’t even picture that. That is off my radar big-time. I cannot imagine being in a National Park with Emus eating burgers off the grill.

    Thank you for the posting of this, and your gracious link to my site.
    You are a gem, Mags.
    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha—awake yet, are we dear?

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi weisserwatercolours,
      You now know exactly how a kookaburra laughs, these birds are very much loved by most Aussies, and it doesn’t matter how old you are, if you hear a kookaburra, you immediately start looking for it. πŸ˜€
      I’m glad you have enjoyed the post. Concerning the Emu’s, they love their food, if they are around, and you have food, they will snatch it. πŸ˜† I found this video, I thought you may like, unfortunately it is not in English, but it shows what an emu is like at a barbecue. The video was taken in a National Park in Victoria Australia.

      Take note the emu went straight to the grill first. πŸ˜†

  21. OMG–They’re not only HUGE, they’re brazen–going right up to the table even. This is absolutely fascinating. And to think all we have to worry about in Canada are red squirrels . . . . oh, and the occasional black bear — but at least they have the grace to wait until everyone is either away, or asleep. This Emu is just taking over. THANK YOU MAGS. I’m getting a real glimpse into the wildlife of your great country.

    • Just imagine what it’s like when there are three or four of them. The one in the video doesn’t look quite full-size. They can be bigger than that. They are smaller than the African ostrich, but still quite cumbersome. With big appetites.

      • magsx2 says:

        Hi Lady Marilyn,
        That is spot on, he doesn’t look fully grown. My Husband laughed when he saw the emu video, his words: “Gee, they were lucky, seems there was only the 1 emu”.
        Apparently when he was at a barbecue in Canberra awhile ago, there was 4 emus that were giving them all a bit of a hard time. πŸ˜€

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi weisserwatercolours,
      Our emus are not afraid of much, they will snatch food right out of your hands, and will keep following you if they don’t get it. πŸ˜€
      But at least we don’t have bears. πŸ˜†

  22. Lenore Diane says:

    Mags, I stopped in my tracks when I saw your title. Kookaburra … the song you included is what my kids listened to when they were little. We would sing it together – I loved that song. Laugh, “Kookaburra! laugh, Kookaburra!
    Gay your life must be…”
    Gay – smay – I love that line. So peaceful.

    I didn’t realize the bird was so large. I’ll have to share this post with the boys. I’m sure they’ll enjoy it. Well, I’ll enjoy sharing it with them, anyway. Thank you for this!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Lenore,
      It is fantastic how this song seems to be known in a lot of places around the world. Yes the kookaburra is a very large bird, and very much loved as well. πŸ˜€
      I hope your sons enjoy the post as well. πŸ™‚

  23. Selma says:

    I love kookaburras. They are such characters. We have a little family of them that live by the creek near our place. I often go and sit under the trees and just watch them. Beautiful birds!

  24. aFrankAngle says:

    I had to share this one with you. Last night I asked my wife if she has ever heard a Kookaburra … so she (and unsurprisingly so) starts singing the Kookaburra Song.

  25. E.C. says:

    What a cheerful bird, he is. My husband and I had a fun good laugh listening to the video. lol Thanks so much. πŸ™‚

  26. starlaschat says:

    It was wonderful to listen to the video and watching the Kookaburra singing amazing! I found myself with huge smile. I can see why this bird is so loved as it brings smiles and joy. The emu stealing food I could imagaine that would be very imtimadateing. Really great post!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi starlaschat,
      The kookaburra is just one of those birds that you can’t help but smile when it starts laughing, plus they are good at getting rid of the snakes as well. πŸ™‚
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
      Thank You very much for taking the time to comment.

  27. Golfmadchick says:

    Great post, I love those birds. During a holiday to Aussie I stayed in Daylesford an hour or so out of Melbourne and you are literally surrounded by them there. I got some fantastic pictures. Including one of this seriously old bird who had about 2 feathers left. Amazing place, amazing creatures.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Golfmadchick,
      I hope you had a great time while you were here in OZ.
      We do have some great wildlife, and of course not so great as well (snakes being one), but the Kookaburra is a magnificent bird, I’m glad you were able to see so many around where you were staying.

      • Golfmadchick says:

        Hi Mags, I sure did, absolutely love Australia. When I find the time I’m going to do big write up on my experiences there. But seriously, on another note, thanks for your embedding tuition lesson – it worked.

        • magsx2 says:

          That sounds like a post worth reading. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you had a good time.
          It’s great that you worked it out, it is hard when your not sure how it is done.

  28. I remember learning the song in summer camp here in Connecticut, but I never knew what a kookaburra looked like or sounded like until I saw this video. What a colorful and cheerful creature to have in your neighborhood! I’m sure if I ever visited Australia I’d feel like I was on another planet entirely, with so many birds and animals I’ve never encountered before. What is common in your day-to-day life, Mags, seems so exotic to me. πŸ™‚

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Barabara,
      It has really surprised me the different places around the world people have been taught this song, but the teachers didn’t even show a picture of a kookaburra, I can see how the song must of been a bit confusing for a lot of kids.

      It’s the same for me, I see different photos on blogs of animals people have that come into their yards, and a lot of these animals don’t exist here, some I have seen in zoo’s, but it is unreal to see them in their natural places.

  29. gregoryno6 says:

    Koobaburras aren’t native to Western Australia, but were introduced from the eastern states during the late 1890s. By someone who couldn’t wake up in time for work without that crazy laugh outside their window, I assume.

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  31. Tony McGurk says:

    I love kookaburras but we don’t see them close to town that often here in Launceston. Now the song is in my head but I always get the words wrong.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Tony,
      That is a bit of a shame, that they are not around that much where you are.
      It is one of those songs that seems to stay with you when someone reminds you of it. πŸ˜€

      Thank You very much for visiting and taking the time to comment.

  32. starlaschat says:

    I came over this morning to study the words to the song all I know is laugh kookaburra luagh laugh…..Navar knows all the words. I asked him this morning “where did you learn to words to this song.” He said grade school. I’m going to scroll up and practice…..:+} I feel I was deprived as a chid and I didn’t even know it. What else have I missed?

  33. Indira says:

    Your blogs are very informative and enjoyable. Kookaburra’s laugh amazing,thanks for sharing.

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  35. viveka says:

    Kookaburras – what a funny bird … saw it and heard it … when I was New Guinea, – very noisy thing.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi viveka,
      They are funny, I wake up to the sound of the kookaburra, there is a family in the trees up the road a bit, I think I’m just used to them. When I don’t hear them I wonder what has happened. πŸ™‚

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  37. Touch2Touch says:

    OMG Mags — this is a wonderful video, and a really interesting post. Growing up in Brooklyn NY I heard about laughing kookaburras, but never ever have seen one, let alone heard this wonderful laugh! We have our loons, but their weird and mystic and kind of distant. This laughter is infectious! (Maybe that’s why Australians always seem to be good-natured?)

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Touch2Touch,
      They are an amazing bird. I hear them every morning, there is a small family of them living in the tree at the end of our street, I also grew up listening to them as well, you just get so used to their laughter if I don’t hear them I wonder if all is well. πŸ™‚
      I agree the laughter is infectious, and every Aussie child when I grew up was always told by their parents that something funny has happened because the kookaburra is laughing again. πŸ˜€

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