How to Attract Kookaburras to Your Garden

Anyone who lives in the eastern part of Australia or Tasmania would be very familiar with the sound of the kookaburra in the bush.

These raucous native Australian birds have an unmistakable ‘laugh’ that sets them apart from any other species of bird.

It may interest you to know that kookaburras mate for life and often stay in their family groups for many years. The iconic laugh is actually a warning to other males in the area to stay away from the ‘laughing’ kookaburra’s territory. 

Kookaburras are primarily carnivorous and feed mainly on lizards, skinks, insects, small snakes, worms, crustaceans, frogs and small mammals.

Kookaburra eating | Wildlife

They like to nest in tree hollows but will also make their nests in termite mounds in the bush. This should give you some idea of what will attract them to your garden.

Grow native trees and shrubs

The best way to lure kookaburras into your garden is to create an environment that resembles their preferred habitat. This involves growing plenty of native trees and shrubs in your garden.

Primarily, you want some tall trees in your garden, especially gum trees or trees that are native to where you live. Kookaburras love to sit high up in the branches of tall gums to survey their surroundings.

Kookaburra 5 | Wildlife

You also want to plant some other native shrubs and ground cover plants around your garden as these will attract lizards and insects that kookaburras like to feast on.

Instead of creating a nice, green lawn area, consider just adding plenty of mulch and turning the lawn into a garden bed filled with native plants. 

This will create a mini ecosystem that Kookaburras will enjoy. Don’t forget to add a few rocks as kookaburras like to bang any prey that they’ve caught on the rocks to soften it so that it’s easier to digest.

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Don’t remove large trees that may be damaged

As I’ve already mentioned, kookaburras like to nest in large tree hollows. Therefore, if you have a large old tree at the back of your garden, resist the urge to remove it.

Kookaburra 2 | Wildlife

The tree is likely to have some excellent hollows that would be suitable for nesting kookaburras. Plus, trees that are starting to break down will attract insects and things like lizards. 

These will provide a nice feast for any visiting kookaburra.

Install a large nesting box high up in a tree

If you don’t have any old trees in your garden, consider installing a large nesting box high up in one of your trees. Preferably this should be a eucalypt but any other native species will work just as well.

Make sure that the opening in the nesting box is large enough for a kookaburra.

Provide drinking water and a bathing spot

Kookaburras need to drink water but they also like bathing in it. If you don’t have the space or inclination to build a pond or create a mini creek in your garden, install a large birdbath instead.

Kookaburra 3 | Wildlife

Try to select one that is as natural looking as possible and also large enough to accommodate a couple of kookaburras splashing around in the water.

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Don’t use pesticides in your garden

If you want to attract kookaburras and keep them coming back, avoid using any type of pesticide in your garden. 

Kookaburra 4 | Wildlife

I remember living out west of Toowoomba quite a few years ago when there was a mouse plague. We resisted using any poisons and only caught the mice in traps.

We would then throw the dead mice out onto the ground and watch as the kookaburras swooped down to pick them up.

If you want the insect population kept under control, wait for the kookaburras and other insect-eating birds to find your garden.

With just a little patience on your part, a natural balance will be created within the haven that you’ve built for the kookaburras.

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Should you feed wild kookaburras?

Feeding wild kookaburras is generally not recommended because human food does not provide the nutrition that these birds need and can cause them to become sick. In fact, many kookaburras that come into wildlife care are suffering from a calcium deficiency because they have been fed beef mince.

What time of the day are kookaburras most active?

Kookaburras are generally the most active at dawn and just before the sun goes down. This is when you will most likely hear them around your garden. However, kookaburras also like to search for food during daytime hours.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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