Blue-winged Kookaburra

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image: bw-kookaburra.jpg

Common Name: Blue-winged Kookaburra
Scientific Name: Dacelo leachii

Size: 15 ½ inches (39 cm)

Habitat: Australia; endemic to 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 Northern Territory. It is absent from the Eighty Mile beach area in Western Australia separating the Pilbara population. Typically found in tropical and subtropical open woodlands, paperbark swamps, timber on watercourses, clearings, canefields and farmlands.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: Unknown. Blue-winged Kookaburras have suffered from loss of habitat resulting from land clearing, and are often killed on roads

Diet: 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.

Breeding: 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. Two to four white eggs are laid in September through January.

Cool Facts: The scientific name commemorates the British zoologist William Elford Leach. Blue-winged Kookaburra family groups are often larger than those of the Laughing Kookaburra, with up to 12 members.

Their call is a 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.

Found in Songbird ReMix Second Edition and Songbird ReMix Australia Volume III

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