You may not think you've heard the rollicking call of the Laughing Kookaburra, but you almost certainly have. The Kookaburr's loud "laugh" -- that echoing koo-koo-koo-koo-KA-KA-KA! in the background of every jungle movie ever made -- actually comes from a squat, unassuming bird who would never be found anywhere near a jungle. In fact, the traditional home of the wild Laughing Kookaburra is the wide-open eucalyptus forests of Australia.
The Laughing Kookaburra is the largest member of the kingfisher family. But while many kingfishers are brightly colored and famed for their dramatic dives down into the water in search of fish, the brown-and-biege Laughing Kookaburra prefers dry woodlands and city parks, not to mention a more practical sit-and-wait style of hunting. Kookaburras will eat almost any kind of meat they can get hold of -- insects, small mammals, hotdogs, snakes. Once caught up in the Kookaburra's strong beak, prey is carried up into the trees and whacked repeated against a branch to kill it and soften the insides up for easy eating.
When they're not stealing food from picnics or beating up snakes, Kookaburras use their distinctive call as a territorial marker. Everywhere you can hear their laughter belongs to them! Unfortunately, they like nothing better than to sound off first thing in the morning. This tendency to wake people up, whether they want to or not, has earned the Laughing Kookaburra the local nickname "The Bushman's Alarm Clock."