Family Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Least Concern

Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)


French: Martin-chasseur géant German: Jägerliest Spanish: Cucaburra común

Alcedo novæ Guineæ


, 1783,

New South Wales, Australia


For long known as D. gigas, but name novaeguineae (dating to same year) has priority; species does not occur in New Guinea, and Sonnerat’s first description of it from there seems to have been a deliberate falsification. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. n. minor Robinson, 1900 – NE Australia from Cape York Peninsula S to Cooktown (NE Queensland).
  • D. n. novaeguineae (Hermann, 1783) – E Australia from S Cape York Peninsula S to Flinders Range (South Australia) and Cape Otway (Victoria).
  • Introduced (nominate race) to SW Australia, Kangaroo I, Flinders I, Tasmania, and New Zealand (North I).

    Descriptive notes

    39–42 cm; male 196–450 g (mean 307 g), female 190–465 g (mean 352 g). Very large, distinctive kingfisher. Male nominate race white head, dark crown and... read more


    Well-known laughing choruses, mainly at dawn and dusk, by 2 or more birds, often in response to... read more


    Eucalypt (Eucalyptus) forest and woodland, using riparian trees along major watercourses... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet varied and well studied. Invertebrates recorded are earthworms (Lumbricidae, Megascolecidae), snails (Helicidae), spiders (... read more


    Lays in Sept–Dec; occasionally 2 broods. Monogamous; pairs for life, maintains territory all year. Pair often accompanied by up to 4... read more


    Sedentary, with occasional temporary movements to exploit abundant prey; prior to breeding,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common over most of its range, and has benefited from human settlement. Density varies between 0·04 and 0·8 birds/ha, giving estimated... read more

    Recommended citation

    Woodall, P.F. (2019). Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 November 2019).