Kookaburra sign on Ave Azul's Farm Osa PeninsulaRelated to rollers and bee eaters these stocky little hunters are in fact,the largest members of the kingfisher family, Dacelonidae in the order of Coraciformes. Their closer relatives, the Paradise kingfishers are some of the most striking birds in the world.

Being about crow sized and weighing from 345 to 480 grams these adept hunters are known as “Pescadores” here in Costa Rica…fishing birds.

There are two species,the blue-winged, Dacelo leachii and the laughing kookabura, D. novaeguineae. Both are found in Australia. D.novaeguineae was introduced to Tasmania and New Zealand around 1880 to 1905. By 1930 it was firmly established on Tasmania but only survives on the North island of New Zealand along the west coast of the Hauraki gulf.

Rubyann with Kookaburra and Offspring

Rubyann with Kookaburra and offspring

The two other species of the genus Dacelo, the rufous-bellied, D.gaudichaud and the spangled, D.tyro both occur only on the island of New Guinea and Irian Jaya.

The laugh made famous by soooo many hollywood movies is in fact, a territorial song delivered by 2 or 3 birds at once, known as a gang.

The species pairs for life and can live up to and over 18 years. We now know this as I have had this breeding pair here at Ave Azul since 1995 when they were just 14 gram chicks. Previous research indicated the birds live to only around 12 years.

Unfortunately, the world appears destined to lose a dozen or more kingfisher types, mainly island species within the next 20 to 30 years, but kingfishers are easy to save by conserving native habitat and captive breeding.


Indeed, several species from islands have already been established in captivity and occur more in numbers in captive groups than in the whole of their wild habitat.

Here at Ave Azul we have a “gang of six” birds devoted to a captive breeding program and their slightly demented and maniacal little laughs can be heard every morning at 4:30 a.m.sharp when all six birds of the gang seem to detonate simultaneously in a cacophony of laughter.

Wake up to the sound of Kookaburras... Dacelo novaequineae (gigas)

Wake up to the sound of kookaburras… Dacelo novaequineae (gigas)

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