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The kookaburra is the largest member of the kingfisher family
They were previously known as laughing jackasses
The laughing kookaburra is so-called because of its laughing call which it uses to demarcate its territorial borders. The call is often heard at dawn and it is this which given rise to another of the kookaburras names, the Bushmans clock.
It is the largest member of the kingfisher family which is not restricted to living by rivers but lives and hunts in forest and woodland. Kookaburras live in loose family groups with offspring helping the adults to hunt and care for the next generation of youngsters.
They hunt in a similar way to other kingfishers; by sitting on a convenient perch and waiting for food to pass by. The kingfisher is carnivorous and feeds on mice and similar sized mammals, large insects, lizards, small birds and nestlings and most famously snakes. They have been known to catch, kill and eat venomous snakes which are much longer than they are.
Kookaburras breed in the spring; following courtship and mating a pair will begin to excavate a nest in a hollow tree or earthen bank or possibly a termite mound in the trees. The female lays 2-4 white eggs which hatch after an incubation period of 25 days. Both parents play a part in incubation and in rearing the young.
Kookaburras are becoming so accustomed to humans they will eat from hands by swooping and grabbing food.