Historical information

The Rufous-bellied Kookaburra is a large member of the Kingfisher family. It commonly resides in the dense rainforests of lowland New Guinea, Saibai Island, Indonesia, Biak, Maluku/Moluccas Islands, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia and Queensland in Australia. This is unlike other species of Kookaburra which commonly prefer to reside in locations of open country. Another aspect which makes this bird unique to other Kookaburra is its tendency to live in pairs and not in family groups which is typical of other Kookaburras. In the case of the Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, both parents incubate and care for the eggs/chicks. This Kookaburra feeds on small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects.

The Rufous-bellied Kookaburra was originally named the Gaudichaud's Kookaburra after the French botanist Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré. This species of Kookaburra is among the most colorful varieties of the Kookaburra alongside the Spangled Kookaburra.

This specimen is part of a collection of almost 200 animal specimens that were originally acquired as skins from various institutions across Australia, including the Australian Museum in Sydney and the National Museum of Victoria (known as Museums Victoria since 1983), as well as individuals such as amateur anthropologist Reynell Eveleigh Johns between 1860-1880. These skins were then mounted by members of the Burke Museum Committee and put-on display in the formal space of the Museum’s original exhibition hall where they continue to be on display. This display of taxidermy mounts initially served to instruct visitors to the Burke Museum of the natural world around them, today it serves as an insight into the collecting habits of the 19th century.


This specimen is part of a significant and rare taxidermy mount collection in the Burke Museum. This collection is scientifically and culturally important for reminding us of how science continues to shape our understanding of the modern world. They demonstrate a capacity to hold evidence of how Australia’s fauna history existed in the past and are potentially important for future environmental research.

This collection continues to be on display in the Museum and has become a key part to interpreting the collecting habits of the 19th century.

Physical description

The Rufous-bellied Kookaburra is a large Kingfisher with a black coloured cap on the head, white collar around the neck, blue feathers on the wings and rump and a rufous belly. The female Kookaburra has a brown/rufous coloured tail, as is the case for this particular specimen which identifies it as female. This bird has a large white bill and pale coloured legs. The head is a large square shape and the body is stocky.

Inscriptions & markings

National Museum Victoria / 159a /