Asian Koel (Female)

Romanticised Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus, Linnaeus 1758)

The Asian koel is a common model for poet and writers in India. Its voice is compared sometimes to a nightingale. The whole area of the Eastern Himalayan Botanic Ark in Assam is mesmerized by its melodious call. More than hundreds of guests are awestruck by its voice every time during monsoon. The rhythmical beauty of the bird is the most fascinating feature about it. The whole world knows it as “koel” as the singing bird. But there is always a confusion amongst people about their appearances. It forms a super species with the closely related black-billed and Pacific koels which are sometimes treated as subspecies. (https://wn.com/asian_koel_symbol_indian_poetry)

 

Asian Male Koel
Asian Male Koel

 

Physical Appearances

The male and female Asian koel are distinct from each other. Their bills are pointed, pale and slightly curved. Their eyes are very bright and red/crimson in colour.

The male is bluish-black in colour and very shiny. The body structure is long and slim. Their tail is quite long as compared to the wings.

 

Asian Female Koel
Asian Female Koel

 

But females are colorful bodied unlike the male species. Females are smaller in size than male. Both the male and female have red eyes. The adult female has brownish colour with white stripes at their back. Its underparts are densely striped and fawn coloured. The crown portion is slightly darker in brown.

Juveniles resemble the females but it has dark eyes. The upper plumage of the juveniles is like the male’s and has a black beak. They show a pattern of moult which helps to differentiate them from other parasitic cuckoos (http://natureconservation.in/asian-koel-eudynamys-scolopaceus-complete-d...)

Juvenile Asian Koel

 

Distribution with Range Map

 

 

This bird is native to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Darussalam, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, La People’s democratic Republc, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam. (www.iucnredlist.org/details/22684049/0)

 

Habitat

These birds generally prefer tall and broad leaf trees in Eastern Himalayan Botanic Ark campus. They prefer woodland also depending on the type of food.

Asian koel lives mainly in dense thickest of trees or bamboos, scattered in the country. It is also found in coastal mangroves edges, shrubby areas with tall trees, gardens and woods, town and villages (www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-asian-koel.html)

 


Foster Parents Feeding Juvenile Koel

 

Food

These birds usually prefer ripe fruits, seeds, beeries, insects, caterpillars etc. as their food. Adults are frequent orchards (www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-asian-koel.html). Peeple fig (Ficus religiosa), Mulberry (Morus sp.), Tamarind (Tamarinda indica) etc are some of their source (www.besgroup.org/2011/10/22/food-of-the-asian-koel).

 

Reproduction and Behaviour

Asian koel is an arboreal species. The bird is very shy in nature and not easy to watch. When this bird keeps calm, they usually keep their head portion up and its tail drops. It is very noisy while singing.

During courtship period, Asian koel gets more vocal and excited. If the excited male sees a female, both initiate spectacular chases along large branches and trees. (www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-asian-koel.html)

It is a very common fact that koels and cuckoos are brood parasite and they lays eggs in the nests of other birds specially crows and other hosts, where the owner or the parent nurtures the young ones till they begin to flight. The koel sings to attract the female koels for breeding activity.  The male distracts the host of the nest so that the female may get the chance to lay her eggs in the nest (https://wn.com/asian_koel_symbol_indian_poetry). They generally target the nest of crows. Koel and his song is related with breeding activity of House crow (www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-asian-koel.html).  Other hosts includes  sometimes oriole, Black Drongo, European magpie etc. (http://www.beautyofbirds.com/asiankoels.html)

After distracting the host, the male koel signals the female to come and lay the eggs. The female koels have a peculiar quality that they have the ability to contain the eggs inside the body and delay them from coming out till the male selects the nest (http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/When-the-Koel-sings% E2%80%A6/article14399364.ece). Crows cannot recognize the differences and starts incubating. If the host doesn’t take good care of the chicks, the male koel would destroy the entire nest. The chicks mimic the crow until the first flight and when they grow up the crow chases them away (http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/When-the-Koel-sings% E2%80%A6/article14399364.ece). Then young koels follows the other koels when they depart at the end of summer (www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-asian-koel.html). The breeding season of koels is between April and august (http://natureconservation.in/asian-koel-eudynamys-scolopaceus-complete-detail/)

 

Song of Asian Koel

This bird is only famous for its call worldwide. It is recognized by its voice, mainly by the voice of male who sings like koo…koo..koo, Starting with short but gradually increasing the pitch and repeated the notes in rapid series for long. (https://youtu.be/0DSJ5Y4Vrxk?t=22)

The female voice is totally distinct from the male one. It sounds like  kiik..kiik..kiik.. at a very high pitch (https://youtu.be/PFjf1xqIehw?t=2)

Juveniles of Asian koel call like crows in beginning. (https://youtu.be/u8jQJ9DF30I?t=6)

 

Conservation Status

Current conservation trend is stable and least concern. (www.iucnredlist.org/details/22684049/0)

 Kingdom  Animalia
 Phylum  Chordata
 Class  Aves
 Order  Cuculiformes
 Family  Cuculidae
 Genus  Eudynamys
 Species  Scolopaceus

 

References

Nature Video Highlight

Shubhendu Sharma: How to grow a tiny forest anywhere
Shubhendu Sharma: How to grow a tiny forest anywhere
Dancing butterflies at EHBA
Dancing butterflies at EHBA
Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics™ Forum – Impacts & Outcome
Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics™ Forum – Impacts & Outcome
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