What the heck do we call the Koel?

To: Alan McBride <>
Subject: What the heck do we call the Koel?
From: Carl Clifford <>
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2010 16:43:40 +1100

I might be a bit thick...(pauses for sniggering), but where would the specimen that Linnaeus used for his study and naming, if it was published in 1766. The Dutch explorers were more interested in mapping the western coast, except for Tasman.

Dampier, though basically a pirate, did made copious notes on the peoples and natural history, but on his first voyage, he ended up being marooned on the Nicobar Islands and got back to England with basically the clothes he stood up in and his journals. On his second sojourn, he did hole up in Roebuck Bay, WA for a while and did collect many natural history specimens, but his ship came to grief after he left Australia, due to the normal rot and an incompetent ships carpenter and he and his ship ended up aground on Ascencion Is after taking water to a dangerous extent. He and his crew were marooned until picked up by a Dutch ship. He managed to salvage a lot of his charts and journals, but his specimen collection suffered somewhat. Dampier's second and third circumnavigations were pretty much for piracy, though he did do English literature a favour, by dropping off Alexander Selkirk for a holiday on the second and picking him up on the third.

All this makes me wonder if Linnaeus actually described a specimen that came from the East Indies or New Guinea. The specimen that Linaeus used, may still be in his collection which is held by the Linnean Society in London. It would be interesting to do a DNA profile on a feater from the specimen, if it still exists.


Carl Cliff

On 10/11/2010, at 1:45 PM, Alan McBride wrote:

To quote C & B 2008....

Eastern Koel    Eudynamys orientalis

C & B follows Mason (1997).

Under this division, the oldest available name for the species occurring in Australia is orientalis Linnaeus, 1766, which has priority over E. cyanocephalus Latham, 1801. This necessitates the introduction of a new English name for E. orientalis. Mason (1997) used the name Pacific Koel but as the species occurs throughout eastern Indonesia, the Moluccas, New Guinea, northern Melanesia and Australia, Eastern Koel is a more appropriate name.

Consequently the three species in the E. scolopaceus complex as recognised here are:

E. orientalis (Eastern Koel);
E. scolopaceus (Asian Koel; southern Asia through to western Lesser Sundas and the Philippines) and
E. melanorhynchus (Black-billed Koel; Sulawesi, Sula)

Hope this helps.


Alan McBride, MBO.

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On 10/11/2010, at 13:23 , Patrick Scully wrote:

Hi All,
After reading of the the reported Koel at Victoria Bridge, Richmond, I poped down there yesterday and heard a Koel calling (I recognised the call after hearing and seeing it in Newcastle) for around ten minutes. I didn't have the time to look further but it was on the East side of the river (opposite side to the bike track) just upstream of the bridge. later like the other
person,  I pondered on the correct name, as it was reported as both the
Eastern and the Austrlian Koel. My old Simpson and day calls it the Common Koel as does my Morcombe, Pizzey and Knight 8th Ed calls it the Eastern Koel
and the most recent Simpson and Day (2010) calls it the Eastern (Common)
Koel. If it is now properly called the Australian Koel?, does this mean that
it does not migrate to PNG and Indonesia?
Happy birding,
Patrick Scully

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