Sounds From The Wild: The Laughing Kookaburra

Three laughing kookaburras perch on a branch.

hide captionThree laughing kookaburras perch on a branch.

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."

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