What the heck do we call the Koel?

To: "Jeff Davies" <>
Subject: What the heck do we call the Koel?
From: Carl Clifford <>
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2010 18:02:24 +1100
Hi Jeff,

No, I doubt Dampier was the supplier of the specimens Linnaeus used. I was saying that it is more likely that the specimen he used to describe the species was collected from outside Australia and as you say, possibly the then Dutch East Indies.

As for DNA testing, well it is not possible as it seems that Linnaeus did not keep any bird specimens, only plants insects, fish and shells. Linnaeus originaly named the Koel Cuculus orientalis. Linnaeus did also base species descriptions from illustrations, without a specimen in hand. Interestingly, Linnaesus practice was continued when he was used as the lectotype for Homo sapiens in 1959 and he certainly wasn't around to be examined.


Carl Clifford

On 10/11/2010, at 5:33 PM, Jeff Davies wrote:

G'day Carl,

That was a convenient segue into the exploits of Dampier, not sure of the relevance to the discussion though. Are you saying Dampier was Linnaeus's sole provider of specimens from the region. Or were you forgetting that the Dutch conducted a spice trade with the region which may have enabled some opportunistic collecting of birds from the Moluccas. Eastern Koel is found
from Australia through Melanesia to the Moluccas which is where ssp
orientalis is found and presumably was the first member of this species
group named which would be why the name orientalis has priority. No need to chase all this up and do some DNA, it's already been done. Just trying to
create some clarity.

Cheers Jeff.

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Carl Clifford
Sent: Wednesday, 10 November 2010 4:44 PM
To: Alan McBride
Cc: ; Patrick Scully
Subject: What the heck do we call the Koel?


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
down there yesterday and heard a Koel calling (I recognised the call
hearing and seeing  it in Newcastle) for around ten minutes. I didn't
the time to look further but it was on the East side of the river
side to the bike track) just upstream of the bridge. later like the
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
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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