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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The call of the Asian Koel

The call of the Asian Koel

From mid-October 2005 right through to February 2006, I had been hearing the call of the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) almost every morning at about 6.30 am or thereabout. Sometimes I would hear the call later in the morning and once in a while in the evening as well. I have had people complaining of being awaken by the call as early as 4.30 to 5.00 am but in my area the birds apparently wake up later. These birds, there must be more than a pair, roost among matured trees growing in an abandoned area between two housing estates, seldom visited by people. As such I never saw them but always heard their calls.

Asian Koels are extremely shy birds. Years ago they were always heard and seldom seen. More recently they had been making their presence known especially when they visited my Alexandra palms (Archontophoenix alexandrae) to feed on the ripe fruits. But they were still shy, flying off once they noted my presence.

From mid-February 2006 the call dried up to an occasional kwaking. Then around the end of June the call was again heard, but not as regularly as previously.During the first few days of July I had the opportunity to view them close-up. Four male koels flew in at around 5.30 pm and stayed for about an hour to an hour and a half. A bird would suddenly arrive and perch on a fruiting branch of my Alexandra palm accompanied by loud kwaking. Another would soon fly in to be followed by the remaining two. Sometimes they would fly to the Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) tree along the roadside.A pair, perching on different branches but facing each other, would then indulge in duetting. The perching appeared precarious as the birds rocked forward and backward, as if trying to balance themselves. Their tails would flare out somewhat and sometimes they would touch beaks. During this time one or more may regurgitate seeds from earlier feeds. After some time they would simply perch quietly, not moving much and not appearing to communicate. Then suddenly they would all fly off.


A lone male koel was recently seen perching on a branch of the Golden Penda and wailing continuously. As it belted out a series of koel-koel-koel calls, its wings flap up while the tail feathers flare out. This went on for up to five minutes before the bird flew off.

Account and images by YC.

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6 Comments:

At 10:46 pm, Blogger budak said...

I heard one at 4 am and right now (10.40 pm) too.

 
At 11:39 pm, Blogger YC said...

I have always wonder whether koels are really awake earlier than 6 am. Now I have confirmation, thanks to budak.

 
At 7:18 pm, Anonymous Scot said...

In Sydney, the Koels appear to be able to keep their calls going all night at times. They will start calling late in the evening and continue until about 10pm or 11pm. Then they will start up again around 4am.

We had one for years every summer in the big tree at the end of our street in Potts Point. Despite trying concertedly for every year, we never actually saw it, except once; it was chasing and being chased by a female up and down the street and calling loudly most of the time.

 
At 8:38 pm, Blogger YC said...

It is interesting to document the call schedules from different parts of the world. Thanks Scot for the Aussie schedule. Many factors, I am sure, come into play.

 
At 8:42 am, Anonymous Serene said...

My housing estate have at least 1 pair of Koel. It's weird but the Koels in my estate are not shy.

I had heard their calls (F+M) sometimes at night too. Just 1/2 calls but not the continuous calling.

The male was seen perching on the antenna of a semi-detached house calling on 2 ocassions. & it was hoping around on a 2-storey high tree when I passed by one morning. 1st time saw a Koel so near for me.

A couple of times, the male Koel was seen flying between a roadside fruiting Alexandra palm and a nearby tree that has a female Koel hiding in it. Seems to me that the fruiting palm tree is the Koels' canteen.

There was once when 2 crows flew onto the palm tree & I was expecting the male Koel to attack them. Instead, he just stopped flying back to the nearby tree & stood his ground (branch). When the crows tried to move towards the red fruits, Koel then move to block the crows. They never fight for the 5 min I stoodstaring at the tree. Not too sure what happens later.

On Mon, the female Koel was seen calling continuously while the male tried to move near it. Then both disppeared behind the thick leaves.

On all ocassions, the Koels R seen when I was either on my way to work or back from work. Sorry, no time to wait around & observe more.

 
At 5:02 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live off Holland Road and I hear the koel every morning. For newbies who don't know what it sounds like, go to: http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/feature/top-40-bird-songs.cfm

 

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