Blue-winged Kookaburra

Did you know?

Blue-winged Kookaburra family groups are often larger than those of the Laughing Kookaburra, with up to 12 members.

Loud maniacal screeching cackle developing into loud trills and then ending abruptly. Also a variety of trills, 'ow' notes, barks and hoarse screeches. Often call in groups from a high perch.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Breeding season: 
September to January
Clutch Size: 
Two to five; usually three
26 days
Nestling Period: 
36 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
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What does it look like?

The Blue-winged Kookaburra is a large kingfisher with a big square head and a long bill. It has a distinctive pale eye. The head is off-white with brown streaks, the shoulders are sky blue and it has a uniform blue rump.The throat is plain white and the underparts are white with faint scalloped orange-brown bars.The back is mid brown. Males have a dark blue tail while females' tails are barred red-brown or blackish. Otherwise the sexes are similar. The legs and feet are grey and the bill is dark above and yellowish below. Juveniles have paler streaks on the head with darker mottlings. There is slight geographical variation with plumage more buff in north-western Australia (race clifoni). The Blue-winged Kookaburra is also known as the Barking or Howling Jackass or Leach's Kookaburra. As they are shy and often quiet in the foliage they may be overlooked.

Similar species: 

The Laughing KookaburraD. novaeguineae, is slightly larger with a slightly longer bill.The Blue-winged Kookaburra also has a head that is streaked white with a white rather than dark eye and no dark patch behind the eye. The Blue-winged Kookaburra has a bright blue wing patch and rump. The call is also quite different.

Where does it live?

The Blue-winged Kookaburra is found in coastal and subcoastal areas in northwest and northeast Australia,Torres Strait and Southern New Guinea. It is widespread in the Gulf Country of Queensland extending South to about Toowoomba. It is also widespread in the top end of NorthernTerritory. It is absent from the Eighty Mile beach area in Western Australia separating the Pilbara population.


Blue-winged Kookaburras are found in tropical and subtropical open woodlands, paperbark swamps, timber on watercourses, clearings, canefields and farmlands.

Seasonal movements: 

Blue-winged Kookaburras are sedentary with local seasonal movements.

What does it do?

Blue-winged Kookaburras eat a wide range of invertebrates and vertebrates. They consume mainly insects, reptiles and frogs in the wetter months, and fish, crayfish, scorpions, spiders, snakes, earthworms and small birds and mammals at other times. After a controlled dive with their bill open, food is grabbed from the ground. The bill has a special groove near the end of the upper mandible which helps in holding prey. After returning to a perch, the prey is beaten and then swallowed. They show extra care when snakes are the prey. Pellets of undigested items are regurgitated and found beneath daytime perches, roosting sites and nests.


The nest site of the Blue-winged Kookaburra is mostly high (to about 25 m) up in natural tree hollows, sometimes in tree termite nests, or in a hole cut into the soft wood of a baobab tree. Typically, the floor of the chamber is lower than the entrance, with an overall length of 50 cm. The breeding pair share the incubation of the eggs and subsequent feeding, which extends for one to two months, and are often assisted by auxiliaries (helpers), mainly from the previous year's clutch.

Living with us

Blue-winged Kookaburras have suffered from loss of habitat resulting from land clearing, and are often killed on roads.

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