For many people in eastern Australia, the raucous cackle of the Laughing Kookaburra is an essential and iconic feature of the dawn chorus. They can be heard laughing from the tip of Cape York south to Wilsons Promontory, where they are often considered to be lovable rogues.
The species' occurrence in other parts of Australia, however, is no laughing matter. Kookaburras were widely introduced into Tasmania and Western Australia in the first decade of the 20th century, and onto Kangaroo Island in South Australia in the 1920s. In Tasmania, the species was slow to expand its range, but by the early 1970s, Kookaburras could be seen throughout the eastern half of the island. They have subsequently become established in all parts except the wild South-West.
Hundreds of Kookaburras were imported into south-western Western Australia, and they quickly expanded their range, inhabiting all suitable areas by the 1940s, and they now occur east to the Jerdacuttup River (north-east of Hopetoun) and north to Geraldton. In these areas, the sound of Kookaburras laughing is considered rather sinister, as they breed in tree hollows that would usually be used by parrots, owls and other hollow-nesting species, and they prey on small reptiles, mammals and nestlings, thus placing undue pressure on those creatures.
The accompanying map shows how well the Laughing Kookaburra has adapted to its introduced environments in Western Australia and Tasmania.
If you want to discover more information about this species or any other birds that occur in Australia, just take a little time to explore the Birdata website, or visit the BirdLife Australia website at www.birdlife.org.au . You never know what you might find.