Blue-Winged Kookaburra Fact File

Dacelo leachii

Weight

310g

(11oz)

Length

40cm

(15.7in)

LIFESPAN

Wild - 20 years

Captive - 20 years

DIET

conservation status

IUCN

Lest Concern

Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree!

Among the most recognizable birds in Australia, the blue-winged kookaburra is found along the northern coastline of the country with a population also occurring on the island of Papua New Guinea.

Their strong beak allows them to grab on to prey items which they can then bash until it is soft enough to swallow whole. As a result of their hunting strategy they have shown an ability to capture and successfully consume venomous snakes.

Appearance

What does a Blue-Winged Kookaburra look like?

As their name would suggest the blue-winged kookaburra has an extensive blue patch sitting on lower portion of the wing. The upper portion of the wing is coloured brown. Across the rest of the body they have off-white feathers. Around the head the feathers feature brown streaks. The blue-winged kookaburra has a large bill which is coloured a creamy-pink on the lower part and dark grey on the upper part. Their eye is coloured white with a black pupil. Their legs and feet are covered by grey skin.

Melanistic individuals of this species have been observed meaning that their lighter patches of feathers are replaced with darker areas.

This species exhibits sexual dimorphism meaning that the male and female can be distinguished from one another visually. Protruding from the end of the body is a tail which in males is coloured blue while in females it is coloured red with black bars running horizontally.

Females are heavier than the males. They measure an average 40cm (15.7in) long with an average weight of 310g (11oz).

Adaptations

How does the Blue-Winged Kookaburra survive in its habitat?


The strong bill of the blue-winged kookaburra is used to seize prey. This features a small groove which helps to hold prey tightly in the beak. They will complete a dive towards the ground before seizing the prey item.

Diet

What does a Blue-Winged Kookaburra eat?

These animals are carnivores. They will feed on a range of invertebrates and other small animals such as reptiles, frogs, crustaceans and small birds. These birds sit on a tree branch or powerline and wait till they spot prey which they can then swoop down and grab. These animals have been observed to capture and kill venomous snakes without ill effect.

Before consuming their prey they will bash it back and forth in their beak to help soften it. Prey is then swallowed whole.

They are unable to digest some parts of their prey such as feathers and bones. These are regurgitated in the form of a small pellet.

Range

Where do you the find the Blue-Winged Kookaburra?

Blue-winged kookaburras live across Australia and the island of New Guinea. In Australia they can be found in the states of Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. In New Guinea they occur in the south of the island across both the Indonesian and Papua New Guinea portions of the island.

Habitat

Where can a Blue-Winged Kookaburra survive?

They occur in forest, savanna and wetland habitats. This species has also adapted to survive in farmland including the canefields which are abundant in their range.

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Blue-Winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii)

Reproduction

How does a Blue-Winged Kookaburra produce its young?

Breeding takes place during spring and summer in Australia from September to January. Pairs typically remain together for life.

Their nest is formed in a tree hollow or a hollowed out termite nest. The same nest may be used by the pair for up to 15 years. In to this nest they will lay between 3 and 5 eggs with a white shell.

Both the male and female are involved in the incubation of the eggs. This lasts for 25 days. At hatching the chicks are coloured pink with no feathers across their body. They are entirely reliant on their parents for their needs.

These birds produce few chicks each year but most of these chicks survive to adulthood.

Chicks remain in the nest for up to 36 days. During this time they will receive care from both their parents and any older siblings which are yet to leave their parents range.

Behaviour

What does the Blue-Winged Kookaburra do during its day?

These birds may live in a small family group with up to 10 individuals. This group is made up of the mated pair and any of their previous offspring which are yet to leave their range.

A range of calls are produced by these birds. These include a loud trill, a screech or bark. Their calls are used to help advertise their control over a territory where they will live.

They are active during the day (diurnal). Their calls are typically made at dawn and dusk.

Predators and Threats

What stops the Blue-Winged Kookaburra from surviving and thriving?

This species is considered to be common with little threat of them going extinct. No official estimate of their population has yet been completed according to the IUCN.


These birds may be affected by the clearing of their habitat. They are also a regular victim of vehicle strikes.

Quick facts

They may also be known as the barking or laughing jackass and Leach's kookaburra.

These animals were first described for modern science during 1826.


References

Romer, L. (no date) ‘Kingfishers’. Unknown: Australasian Zookeeping.

Unknown (no date) ‘Blue-Winged Kookaburra’. Darwin: Territory Wildlife Park.

Frith, C.B. & McCollum, M.. (2011). Melanistic plumage in Blue-winged Kookaburras Dacelo leachii. 28. 27-31.

Gould League Staff (2003) ‘Kookaburra’. Gould League.

BirdLife International. 2016. Dacelo leachiiThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22683193A92978032. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22683193A92978032.en. Accessed on 09 June 2023.

Broadfoot, A.E. (2022) Blue-winged Kookaburra, The Australian Museum. Available at: https://australian.museum/learn/animals/birds/blue-winged-kookaburra/ (Accessed: 11 June 2023).

Blue-winged Kookaburra (no date) Blue-winged Kookaburra | BIRDS in BACKYARDS. Available at: https://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Dacelo-leachii (Accessed: 11 June 2023).

State of Queensland Staff (2022) Species profile: Environment, land and water, Environment, land and water | Queensland Government. Available at: https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=1766 (Accessed: 11 June 2023).

Oakvale Wildlife Staff (2022) Blue-winged kookaburra: Our animals, Oakvale Wildlife. Available at: https://oakvalewildlife.com.au/explore/our-animals/blue-winged-kookaburra (Accessed: 11 June 2023).

Caversham Wildlife Park Staff (no date) BLUE-WINGED KOOKABURRA, Blue-winged kookaburra " Caversham Wildlife Park. Available at: https://cavershamwildlife.com.au/our-animals/show/blue-winged-kookaburra/ (Accessed: 11 June 2023).

Parks Australia Staff (2023) Blue-winged Kookaburra, Australian Government, Parks Australia. Available at: https://parksaustralia.gov.au/kakadu/discover/nature/birds/blue-winged-kookaburra/ (Accessed: 11 June 2023).

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