The Kookaburras of the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are renowned for their rich selection of plant and animal species, particularly the bird life on offer. Here, hundreds of species call the lush rainforest and surrounding valleys their home, including the native Australian kookaburra.

These birds are like tree-dwelling versions of the kingfisher who have a loud call sound that’s reminiscent of human laughter – hence their name, which comes from the Wiradjuri people and is an onomatopoeia of the sound they make.

The Habitat of the Kookaburra

Kookaburras live in a variety of different landscapes, ranging from the humid depths of rainforests to the dry and arid plains of savannas. You might also find them in suburban areas, too, where there are tall trees and running water. However, though they are often associated with kingfishers, they are not water birds.

Different Species of Kookaburra

There are several different species of kookaburra which can be found in the Blue Mountains and around Australia, including the Rufous-belled kookaburra, the Spangled kookaburra, the Blue-winged kookaburra, and the laughing kookaburra.

The Behaviour of the Kookaburra

Kookaburras are almost exclusively meat eaters, opting to dine on things like mice, snakes, insects, and small reptiles – in suburban areas, they have been known to steal a goldfish or two from garden ponds.

The birds can be particularly sociable too, taking food from people’s hands and meat from summer barbecues, but they are also very territorial. Their song is used as a chorus to mark their territory to let other kookaburras know where their land ends and begins.

Kookaburras and Australian Culture

Because they are a native species of Australia, the kookaburra has become an icon in much of the country’s culture. For example, in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the kookaburra became one of the three mascots alongside the echidna and the platypus.

Elsewhere, the kookaburra’s laugh has been used extensively in films – particularly Disney movies – regardless of where they’re set – the cackling laughter of its call makes for a good soundtrack to rainforest scenes. The kookaburra has also taken centre stage in a number of musical creations in Australia and beyond, including “Kookaburra”, a children’s song dedicated to the bird, and several chart hits from the country.

Getting to know Australia’s expansive collection of native species is an integral part of visiting the Blue Mountains, and the common sightings of kookaburras means you can learn more about their behaviour, habitat, and history in the country while exploring the stunning surrounds of this part of Australia.