How to attract kookaburras to your garden

Keeping this in consideration, what can I feed Kookaburras?

use plenty of leaf mulch on your gardens so kookaburras can feed on worms, insects and small lizards.

  • using pesticides if kookaburras are in your area.
  • leaving uneaten pet food outside as it may attract foxes or feral cats.
  • feeding birds, as they thrive on natural food, and retain their natural skills for hunting.

Beside above, can you feed Kookaburras chicken? It is not advised to feed birds meat as it does not include calcium and other nutrients essential to maintain their health. Remainders of mince on the bird’s beak can fester and cause serious health problems.

Accordingly, is it illegal to feed Kookaburras?

So while not strictly “illegal” you can still end up in court for throwing that kookaburra a chippie. Regardless of the by-laws where you live, feeding a bird on your own property is unlikely to result in a fine. “Young birds lose the ability to forage for food and when not fed by humans may starve.

How do you attract Kookaburras?

To attract kookaburras to your garden, plant vegetation that’s native to their habitat, like blueberry ash, bottlebrush, golden wattle, and paperbark. You can also plant gum trees in your yard since kookaburras love to nest in them. Or, you can hang a kookaburra nest box on a high branch for the birds to nest in.

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SERIES 19 | Episode 06

A garden is a retreat from the demands and pressures of modern life, and visiting birds add moments of delight to any garden haven. But there are some tricks to encouraging native birds into the garden.

In the bird world the big motivators are survival and procreation. If a bird knows it can get a feed and be safe from predators, it’s more likely to visit. Although there is some crossover, generally the diet of birds puts them into four broad categories – nectar feeding; insect feeding; fruit and seed feeding; and carnivorous.

The birds groups
  • Nectar feeding birds have long, brush-tipped tongues for dipping into flowers. The flower provides the food source and the birds repay them by taking pollen from one flower to the next, thus facilitating cross pollination.
  • Fruit and seed eating birds include the fig parrot, whipbird and many rainforest birds. They love the berries produced by Syzygium ‘Bush Christmas’. Another plant to provide food for this group is the Grevillea heliosperma.
  • Insect-eating birds like similar plants to those of nectar feeders, so if you’ve got nectar-feeding birds, you’ll have the insect-eaters too.
  • The carnivores include butcher birds, kookaburras, currawongs and owls. To get them into the garden you need wildlife and the best way to do that is to stop using nasty pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. This encourages a natural biology in the garden and brings wildlife such as insects, small lizards, worms and frogs.
The bird attracting plants
  • Grevillea ‘Honey Gem’ is a plant the rainbow lorikeets love. They adore the nectar and seeds and they won’t knock back the odd insect or two either. Grevilleas are great bird plants. The denser and pricklier the foliage, the better protection it gives birds from predators and it also provides fabulous, safe nesting sites.
  • Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’ is another good smaller-growing variety that affords birds plenty of protection. It flowers in the cooler months, giving birds a winter feed.
  • Grevillea ‘Firesprite’ is a favourite of the scarlet honeyeater.
  • Kangaroo paws used to be hard to grow in some locations but, thanks to modern breeding, varieties will now grow just about anywhere, and they attract honeyeaters, red wattle birds and eastern spinebills.
  • Banksias are a bit of an all-rounder. They’re nectar-bearing, so that means they attract the nectar-feeding birds, like wattle birds, but they also carry seeds and that means they bring in the seed-eaters, such as cockatoos.
  • Callistemons or bottlebrushes attract a variety of birds, including the insect eating fairy wren.
Some more tips to attract birds
  • Native birds are especially attracted to red and yellow flowers, according to the textbooks, so keep that in mind when you’re selecting plants.
  • Generally it’s good to have plants flowering at different times of the year, so you’ve got a year-round display of colour and a constant presence and diversity of birdlife in the garden.
  • Reliable water encourages visits for a drink or a dip. But remember that birds like the water elevated so they feel safe.
  • Try using a nesting box as a bird feeder. But don’t overdo it – just put enough feed to attract birds, not enough to make them dependent on you. This could upset the ecological balance in your area and that’s the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

Seeing birds playing their role in pollination, dispersing seed and keeping pests, like snails and insect larvae, under control is part of the joy of seeing birds in your yard. Follow these tips to be on the way to helping the environment and enjoying the sights and sounds of some wonderful winged visitors to the garden.

How to attract kookaburras to your garden

There are some simple steps that will attract birds to the smallest garden, or even city a balcony.

  • Put out a water bath
  • Place a perch close by
  • Place or plant suitable shrubs close to the bath
  • Provide native shrubs and trees that produce flowers or fruit
  • Provide nesting sites

A lot of folks attract birds by feeding. While this has good intentions and is a pleasant exercise in its own right, it can be counter-productive and harmful in many cases. Folks who feed meat to magpies and kookaburras, for example, facilitate greater breeding success than would normally be the case. This creates a local high density of these predator birds, at the expense of the smaller, prey species which will often disappear completely from your area.

Also, a diet of mostly meat lacks the nutritional value that predators get from consuming small, whole creatures. Another feeding habit that is particularly bad for birds is providing them bread. They will readily eat it but can become malnourished and ill from consuming too much. The best approach is to plant suitable trees and shrubs to create a balanced environment and a natural food chain.

I obtained nest box plans from the very useful website. For those folks who would rather buy ready-made nest boxes, there is a fabulous range of boxes specific to various species at

I made a variety of nest boxes from left-over building lumber as our house was being constructed. I have placed a number of different nest boxes in trees on our property. I used left-over paint as well, using blotchy combinations to make the boxes less obtrusive to the human eye.

The birds, and in one case a swarm of bees, had no trouble seeing the boxes though. Kookaburra and Boobook Owls responded nicely to the opportunities. Recently I was thrilled to see that Australian Owlet-nightjars had finally taken up residence after a wait of several years. That was a rewarding day or us.

How to attract kookaburras to your garden

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5 Ways To Attract Birds To Your Garden

How to attract kookaburras to your garden

Birds can be assets in the garden. They assist in pollination, aid in pest control and are generally pleasing to the eye and ears, if you are a fan of birdsong, that is.

1. Add native shrubs

Plant grevilleas, kangaroo paws and banksias in the garden. These natives are favourites with honeyeaters and rainbow lorikeets, as their beaks are perfectly shaped to get nectar from the blooms.

2. Don’t feed them

Giving birds food can have a negative impact on their health if it doesn’t provide adequate nutrition. Feeding stations can also cause diseases to spread. So stick to native plants and a supply of clean water.

3. Quench their thirst

Birds feel safer if their water source is elevated, with a tree near, so they can escape from predators. Keep a birdbath full of clean, fresh water so they know it’s always available and to help reduce the spread of disease.

4. Give them shelter

Areas with dense foliage make birds feel secure, so combine native grasses with shrubs and flowering gum trees. This will provide a safe haven for them to build nests and forage for seeds, fruit and insects.

5. Put up a nest box

Certain birds like nesting in tree hollows, but these are often hard to find. Install nest boxes with entrance holes suitable for the local birds, but ensure they’re not too big, as predators can attack the birds or steal the eggs.

How to attract kookaburras to your garden

One of my favourite inhabitants in my Moruya garden is the native Eastern blue-tongue lizard, Tiliqua scincoides. I reckon the presence of this harmless* reptile is a sign of a healthy garden.

Two juveniles are living out the back. They are cold-blooded and one emerges from under the rear deck in the morning to soak up the sun. Once warm, Eastern blue-tongues forage on snails, beetles and fruit.

This morning whilst gardening, I spotted a second bluey sunning itself next to the compost heap. I threw a snail to this compost dweller. After a minute or two, it grabbed the gastropod in its powerful jaws and moseyed into a tunnel in the compost heap. Then, I heard the crunch of shattering snail shell.

A third EBT shelters under the front deck and catches rays on the deck during the day.

Healthy outdoor practices

It’s good practice to keep the garden healthy for the people, pets and creatures who use your outdoors. In my garden, I don’t spray or use snail bait and I improve the soil with locally scavenged material like seaweed and manure.

The same principles apply at the Downer micro-forest. Instead of treating weeds in the conventional way by spraying with glyphosphate, we took the healthier, slower option and solarised the weeds. We did this by covering the pile of weeds with left-over black builders’ plastic and mulch. The theory is the heat over many months will kill the weeds and seeds.

Replicating nature

In a natural ecosystem, like a forest, there are lots of vegetation layers and I aim to replicate that layering in gardens and micro-forests. You can do this by planting dense groundcovers, grasses, shrubs, climbers and trees thus mimicking nature.


At my south coast garden, I use a number of rambling native ground-covers. They include: edible Warrigal Greens (Tetrgonia tetragonoides), Pigface (Carpobrotus) with an edible fruit that I find weird (sort of a salty-tart flavour), Creeping Boobialla (Myoporum parvifolium), Running Postman (Kennedia) and Kidney Weed (Dichondra). These plants scramble over one another and create a dense hugging mat that cools the ground and provides places for critters, like the Eastern blue-tongue to hide.


In my suburban neighbourhood, the biggest threat to slow-moving reptiles are domestic cats who kill the young lizards. Our dogs (border collies) emit a warning bark to alert us to a blue-tongues presence, but have not harmed them. In the wild, predators include birds like kookaburras and falcons and large snakes.

As blueys are slow movers their best chance of survival in a home garden is with lots of low cover – groundcovers, clumping grasses, thick mulch and twigs, logs and stone piles. In urban Canberra, we had a baby blue tongue living in a rock wall.

Life cycle

They are one of the largest garden skinks and grow up to 50cm long and are covered with brown-black bands and have an obvious blue tongue which they display when threatened. Females give live birth to up to a dozen young in summer which mature when they reach around three years. Herpetologist, Ross Bennett reports that in captivity some have lived to the grand age of 20 years.


By planting lots of groundcovers, grasses, using thick mulch and placing logs and rocks on the ground and avoiding chemicals/pesticides you can create a ready-made blue-tongue habitat. You just need them to come and visit you.

If you have a dog like a terrier or outdoor cats, with a strong drive to kill, these lizards will not last in your garden – they’ll either be killed or waddle off to a kinder environment.

Careful when mowing

Eastern blue-tongues like the cover of long grass so beware when mowing that you don’t accidently pulverise them into garden nutrients!

If you have one at home – congratulations, I reckon it’s a sign you have a healthy garden. Take the time to watch them in action. It’s sure to delight young and old.

Note: although Eastern blue-tongue lizards are not venomous they can bite and shouldn’t be provoked.

Ross Bennett (1997) Reptile and frogs of the ACT. National Parks Association of the ACT.

How to attract kookaburras to your garden

In the last ten years of gardening at the Berkshires we have noticed a significant increase in the number of birds around the garden. When we were creating the garden we were coming out of a ten years of drought. Around the old house some ornamental planting had remained but mostly the garden had been given way to cropping and grazing. When we were designing the new house and garden we tried to ensure all the remaining trees left in the paddock were maintained around the house. We also took into consideration, required set backs from the established trees so root systems weren’t damaged in anyway. At the beginning these established trees were all that we had as far as vegetation coverage or wildlife habitat goes. Over time, as the garden developed, different layers of vegetation started to develop. This I feel has been one of the key ways we have managed to attract birds and other wildlife back to the garden.

Recently I was reading through the book “One of These Days, Springview Remembered” written by Charlie Robinson (a fourth generation descendant of the first farmers on this land). This book was written when the Berkshires was part of a much larger property called Spring View in the 1990’s . The owner, Charlie Robinson notes in his writings that in the 1920’s – “There were a lot of Kookaburras about then, probably because there were plenty of hollow trees for nesting. Today these beautiful birds have become quite rare”.

Part of this reasoning I guess is that many of the trees around the area that would have formed hollows would probably have been cleared for farm land. Now with a more total management goal and adherence to regulations these trees are remaining. In turn we are now starting to see more Kookaburras in the garden, along with Black Cockatoos, Crimson Rozella, Barn Owls, Book Book Owls, Rainbow Lorikeets, Magpies, Superb Parrots, Eastern Rozella, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Galahs and King Parrots. With the denser plantings of vegetation, many layers of planting and a variety of species we have also seen many more smaller birds like Blue Wrens, Robins, Butcher Birds and Willy Wagtails.

The laughing kookaburra is known as the “bushman’s alarm clock” because it has a very loud call, usually performed by a family group at dawn and dusk, that sounds like a variety of trills, chortles, belly laughs, and hoots. The call starts and ends with a low chuckle and has a shrieking “laugh” in the middle.

What does a kookaburra eat?

What does it mean when a kookaburra laughs?

The Laughing Kookaburra native to eastern Australia makes a very familiar call sounding like raucous laughter. Their call is used to establish territory among family groups, most often at dawn and dusk. If a rival tribe is within earshot and replies, the whole family soon gathers to fill the bush with ringing laughter.

Can you tame a kookaburra?

To keep a kookaburra as a pet, the NSW Native Animal Keepers’ Species List dictates a permit is required and they are not allowed to be kept as a companion pet.

How do I attract Kookaburras to my yard?

Having a large range of native shrubs and trees in your backyard gives Kookaburras plenty of sticks and leaves to build a nest with. Having local native plants in your garden will also attract lizards and insects such as native bees and stick insects, which provide a tasty treat for Kookaburras.

What can you not feed a kookaburra?

Don advised against feeding meat-eating birds such as kookaburras, currawongs and butcherbirds. They include small birds in their diets, so if you do choose to feed them and their populations build up, you may find that there aren’t many smaller birds around your place.

Where do Kookaburras sleep at night?

Kookaburras roost alongside others of their social units. They all meet up around twilight each night. They sometimes congregate prior to twilight or right after it begins. Kookaburras usually have a handful of preferred trees for these purposes.

Do Kookaburras swoop humans?

Relationship with humans Laughing kookaburras are a common sight in suburban gardens and urban settings, even in built-up areas, and are so tame that they will often eat out of a person’s hands. It is not uncommon for kookaburras to snatch food out of people’s hands without warning, by swooping in from a distance.

How do you tell if a kookaburra is male or female?

All kookaburras are sexually dimorphic, meaning the male and female have noticeable differences. But this is only obvious in the Blue-winged and the Rufous-bellied; the males have blue tails and the females have rufous tails.

What is the most protective bird?

Blue jays are also fiercely protective of their nests and will attack and chase predators, including hawks, falcons, raccoons, cats, snakes, and squirrels.

How to attract kookaburras to your garden

Rainbow lorikeets seem to prioritise food over birdbaths.

THIS summer, when a rainbow lorikeet or kookaburra comes to visit your home, what will you do? Will you offer them a slice of apple, or simply watch until they take flight?

THIS summer, when a rainbow lorikeet or kookaburra comes to visit your home, what will you do? Will you offer them a slice of apple, or simply watch until they take flight?

It brings many people joy to provide food and water for birds, to encourage them to stay a while and be given the chance to observe them more closely. But some people are reluctant to interact with birds in this way because they’re worried it might damage the birds’ health.

In contrast with other countries, little research has been done on the effects of feeding birds in Australia. As a result, there are no established guidelines around how to feed and provide water for local birds.

That’s why we ran the Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study. We asked nearly 3,000 people to monitor the birds that visited their feeding areas and birdbaths. We wanted to know if there was a difference in the species that visited different types of gardens.

We examined the numbers and types of birds visiting:

  • birdbaths where no food was provided
  • birdbaths where food was provided
  • bird-feeders where birdbaths were provided
  • places where only food was provided.

The early results from the winter stage of the Australian Bird Feeding and Watering Study suggest that if you provide food and water, you will get more birds in your garden. But the species you attract will depend on what exactly your garden has to offer.


Granivores are seed-eating birds. They include species such as parrots, crested pigeons, sulphur-crested cockatoos, crimson rosellas and galahs.

We noticed a spike in the number of granivores in gardens where both food and birdbaths were provided. But when food was on offer, fewer granivores chose to use the birdbath. We don’t yet know exactly why this is, but it could be because these seed-eaters need less water, or they can get it more easily from other sources than they can food.

Also, most of the bird food sold in shops is seed-based. People who buy these products will naturally attract more seed-eating birds to their garden.

We were, however, surprised to see crested pigeons visiting gardens where food was provided. These birds are only recent urban arrivals, and were previously restricted to semi-arid environments as opposed to the more urban areas where most of our citizen scientists lived. But crested pigeons are very adaptable and now compete fiercely for food and territory with the introduced spotted dove in some Australian gardens.


“Small” nectarivores are nectar-eating birds that weigh less than 20 grams. The main birds in this group are New Holland honeyeaters, eastern spinebills and Lewin’s honeyeaters.

The early results of our study suggest small nectarivores prefer gardens with birdbaths more than their granivore and insectivore friends. In fact, it seems that these small nectarivores like birdbaths so much, they will choose birdbaths over food when both are provided.

“Large” nectarivores are nectar-eating birds that weigh more than 20 grams. These species including noisy miners, rainbow lorikeets and red wattlebirds – seem to prioritise food over birdbaths. This may be because they’re looking for a source of protein that they can’t easily find in their natural environment.

Honeyeaters – such as Lewin’s honeyeaters, blue-faced honeyeaters and noisy miners – will forage on nectar but will eat insects as well. They switch from one to the other, but once they have found their meal they will defend it vigorously from other birds.


Insectivores feed on insects, worms, and other invertebrates. Some insectivore species include superb fairy-wrens, willie wagtails and grey fantails.

Insectivores are most attracted to gardens where both food and water are provided. While superb fairy-wrens were frequently found in gardens where food was provided, willie wagtails and grey fantails preferred to visit gardens where only water is provided.

Many people have told me how confident fairy-wrens and willie wagtails can become around houses and gardens. These tiny birds can be bold and aggressive, and can work together to get what they want. A mum and dad fairy-wrens will conscript their older children into looking after younger ones – and siblings who refuse to help find food and defend territory may even be kicked out of the family. So these tough breeds have a competitive advantage in their new urban environments, and aren’t afraid to mix with or even chase off bigger birds.

You may be wondering exactly what type of seed to put out to attract which granivore, or which meat attracts a carnivore like a Kookaburra. I’m afraid we can’t yet say for sure, as we are yet to analyse the data on this question. Watch this space.

Could birds become reliant on humans for food?

Many people worry that birds will become reliant on humans to provide food for them. But this mightn’t be as big a concern as we once though.

The birds turning up at feeding areas and birdbaths are species that are highly adaptable. Many Australian birds live long lives, and relatively large brains when compared to their European counterparts. Some experts have argued that some Australian birds have evolved a larger brain to cope with feast and famine conditions in the Australian environment.

Many Australian bird species can switch easily between estates and gardens in one area, be semi-nomadic, fully nomadic or seasonally migratory. This ability to adapt and switch between diets makes Australian bird species very resourceful, innovative and adaptable.

Of course, Australia also has birds that have highly specialised diets or habitats, and they’re the ones usually most threatened or limited to one territory – birds like the regent honeyeater or ground parrot. In this study, we’re concentrating on birds that are adapting to urban areas and turning up at birdbaths and feeding areas in gardens.

Building our knowledge of bird feeding behaviour

We plan to develop guidelines around providing food and water for birds in a way that has the highest conservation value for our feathered friends. But before we can do that, we need more data from you.

So please take part in the summer stage of the study and pass the word around to others who may wish to be involved.

The summer survey will run for four weeks, beginning on January 30 2017. Visit download the complete report on our early findings or to register to take part in our summer study.

* Grainne Cleary is a researcher for Deakin University’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences.