Sounds From The Wild: The Laughing Kookaburra

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Three laughing kookaburras perch on a branch.

Three laughing kookaburras perch on a branch. John Carnemolla/Corbis hide caption

toggle caption John Carnemolla/Corbis

It's a common sound in the Australian bush, starting up just around daylight: the laughing call of the kookaburra.

In the group captured in this field recording by wildlife expert David Stewart, four or five birds can be heard. They're letting kookaburras know this is their territory.

"They get together, they have a bit of a chat, and then they go into a full laughter song," says Stewart.

The kookaburra is the largest genus of the kingfisher family, with some measuring up to 20 inches long. And the fluffy bird, whose name comes from the Aboriginal word guuguubarra, also has a formidable beak, making quick prey of lizards, snakes, mice and insects.

It is found only in Australia and New Guinea, though some moviemakers like to use the kookaburra's call anytime they film in a jungle.

"It's a very happy sound," Stewart says. "I think they're just waking up in the morning and they're feeling great."



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from