eBook - June 2004 - eRetailers

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A complete overview of Kookaburras and their unique place in Australian culture and natural history.

Laughing Kookaburras are the largest kingfishers in the world, and Blue-winged Kookaburras are not far behind. Their size and distinctive shape and posture make them easily recognisable; their comical and personable characters make them readily memorable. They are able to live in a wide variety of habitats, and adapt to living around humans relatively well. This cheerful familiarity has caused them to figure prominently in the psyches and folklores of all peoples who have inhabited Australia. + Full description

Kookaburras live in family groups marked by the extremes of social behaviour. Whilst in the nest, chicks fight their siblings for dominance and food so aggressively that the smallest chick is often killed. In complete contrast, many adult kookaburras delay their own breeding in order to help their relatives raise young.

Kookaburra: King of the Bush provides a complete overview of kookaburras and their unique place in Australian culture and natural history.

- Short description


No longer available in a print edition.


"Kookaburra is well produced and extremely well illustrated, with pencil sketches by the author and colour photographs (including some taken inside nest hollows) and an excellent series illustrating stages in nestling development. Anyone with even a passing interest in birds, especially anyone who lives within earshot of a Kookaburra, should read this book - it will open your eyes to a whole new world."
Eleanor Rowley (Russell) (Wingspan, Dec 2004)

"The slimness of this book belies its significance as a substantial contribution to the scientific understanding of cooperative breeding and siblicide in birds, Australasian ornithology, and the reproductive biology of Australian and other kookaburras. . . Sarah Legge's text makes easy and fascinating reading, unfolding as it does a meticulous and innovative field study that was approached, designed, performed, and presented with thoughtful insight."
Clifford Frith, Queensland Museum (Emu v.104 no.4, 2004)

"For the bird-lover and environmentalist, a detailed, illustrated scientific study of the kookaburra."
The Australian, 6 Oct 2004

“... this is an excellent book. If you wish to experience the mystery and wonder of the natural world in which this signature Australian bird lives, you won’t be disappointed with Kookaburra: King of the Bush.”
Pauline Reilly (Corella v.29 no.1 Mar 2005)

“This book has managed to translate hard science into a very readable text. … It is hard to fault this book.”
Mark Antos, Deacon University (Australasian Wildlife Management Newsletter v.18 no.1 Oct 2004)

“… this entertaining, informative and very readable book substantially adds to our understanding of these remarkable birds.”
Virgil Hubregtse (The Victorian Naturalist v.121 no.6 Feb 2005)


ePDF | June 2004
ISBN: 9780643091375
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


  • Magnificent colour photos of the different species of kookaburra
  • New insights into kookaburra chick behaviour by Australia's leading kookaburra researcher
  • Excellent overview of the ecology and behaviour of these famous birds


Chapter One - The culture of kookaburras
Chapter Two - Taxonomy and distribution
Chapter Three - Appearance and habits
Chapter Four - Social and mating system
Chapter Five - Breeding
Chapter Six - The helping system
Chapter Seven - Life in the nest
Chapter Eight - Mortality
Chapter Nine - Conservation and management


Sarah Legge received her honours degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1991, where she developed an interest in animals with unusual and complex social systems. She worked in the Serengeti, Tanzania for three years before coming to Australia to begin her PhD research on Laughing Kookaburras. She is currently employed as a postdoctoral fellow at the Australian National University, studying the evolution and ecology of bird migration between Australia and New Guinea. Sarah has written scientific and popular articles on a range of species, including lions, eclectus parrots, white-winged choughs, palm cockatoos, paradise kingfishers — and kookaburras.