Koels breeding in GBS sites

To: Michael and Janette Lenz <>
Subject: Koels breeding in GBS sites
From: martin butterfield <>
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2012 16:24:29 +1100
I disagree that entries (of any sort) on a GBS Chart be duplicated in the general records.  I can't see any benefit in it and it clearly leads to either confusion or duplication in subsequent analysis.


On Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 4:21 PM, Michael and Janette Lenz <> wrote:
this particular discussion here, whether to focus on the parasite or the host for recording purposes, is specific to the requirements of placing records on the GBS chart. Normally, I would expect that events for both parties are fully recorded. And my hope is, that in that particular case of
Tery Munro's observations, details of dates etc. are noted and, in addition to GBS entries, also make their way into the COG database. There the entries for host and parasite  could easily be cross-referenced.
Michael Lenz

Interesting discussion.  How do they deal with this issue in other jurisdictions, eg,  UK, does anyone know?


From: Philip Veerman [
Sent: Tuesday, 31 January 2012 6:19 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Koels breeding in GBS sites


All sounds fine to me. About the aspect of survival of the the species, sure I go along with that but there is the aspect of what we perceive as important and whose survival are we interested to monitor. A cuckoo's breeding survival is the host's non-breeding survival. Martin's preference for data is entirely valid in the situation that one more or less Red Wattlebird nesting, hardly matters, in terms of GBS records but Koel breeding records are more interesting.


However, take it the other way (and it could almost have been a GBS record). Some few years ago when we had the nesting colony of Regent Honeyeaters on the northern edge of Canberra suburbs and found one nest to have been successfully parasitized by a Pallid Cuckoo (I think Jenny Bounds had that history covered). Yes that is an aspect of about survival of the species for the Pallid Cuckoo but equally and arguably more important to us, due to concern over its status, was the (in this case non helpful to the survival of the species) for the failed nesting of the Regent Honeyeaters. So I wouldn't like us to miss the information on the Regent Honeyeater. Also with the postulation I have that in such a case the Pallid Cuckoo raised by them may grow up to prefer to parasitize another Regent Honeyeater nest and create ongoing impact there. (No direct evidence for this, just a strong suspicion.) 


For what it is worth, I had assumed that, like the King Parrot for which all breeding records are dy, I expect that other cuckoo breeding records are of nests (far) outside GBS areas and young have followed the parents into GBS areas. This is clearly not so much the case for Koels & Wattlebirds. 




-----Original Message-----
From: martin butterfield [
Sent: Tuesday, 31 January 2012 5:43 PM
To: Philip Veerman
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Koels breeding in GBS sites

My philosophy is that breeding is primarily about survival of the the species.  From that view the DY of a Koel being fed by a Red Wattlebird is certainly about the Koel and not the Wattlebird.

Terry's situation, if his very reasonable assumption is carried through, will be the first in-nest record of a cuckoo.  There have been some records of 'preliminaries' (Display and Copulation) but none of "Nest with eggs" or "nest with young".

In terms of logic there must be a time at which the nest contains eggs and young of both species, but without great luck  (or a cherry-picker) it will only be possible to infer, rather than observe that.  Having had the application to identify what is going on there may be a chance that Terry will observe the Koel chick in the nest.  In that case I believe it should be recorded against the species of the chick not the parents. 

However the parents could quite reasonably be recorded as Carrying food for the young cuckoo - indeed if the nest was outside Terry's GBS site he may well have recorded the parents carrying food within his site.  A similar situation arose on the Kama Wednesday Walk where we saw a Superb Fairy-wren feeding a Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo (out of nest). 

At the risk of causing confusion I wonder whether there might not be a need for an additional breeding code.  I'd suggest CU for feeding CUckoo attached to the Parent bird (whether the feeding is in or out of nest).  This could be easily linked to the DY or NY records for the cuckoos in the same site and week.

Analysts could then do as they wish to infer when the Koel eggs were laid etc.


On Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 5:09 PM, Philip Veerman <> wrote:

And indeed a dy for the host species too? Although maybe we should clarify that. I point out the situation is new. At the time I wrote The GBS Report, there had never been an in nest observation of any species of cuckoo for the history of the GBS. Only dy observations. So I did not discuss the problem in The GBS Report. As Koels (unlike other cuckoos) are common in suburban Canberra and rare outside the city environs, the breeding is occurring in nests in GBS areas. In Terry's note below (and similar for others) what we likely have is a ne, a ny and if successful a dy set of records for both the cuckoo and the host. Is it sensible to call it a dy for the wattlebird? I could argue both yes (from the point of view of the wattlebird) the wattlebird has dy, or no, from the point of view of the cuckoo, there are no dy wattlebird chicks from that nest.


Of course at the time I wrote The GBS Report, I wrote for the Koel "No breeding records - yet"  Which indicates my now correct prediction that such records would start soon. BOCG V2 tells us even less.


Pity that there won't ever be an update of The GBS Report to explain the history and results of the project to clarify these things.




-----Original Message-----
From: martin butterfield [
Sent: Tuesday, 31 January 2012 4:22 PM
To: Terry Munro
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Koels in Watson


Can you (and anyone else who has Koels or other cuckoo breeding records in a GBS site) record the event carefully with notes on the Chart.  If a juvenile Koel emerges it should be recorded as DY for that species. 


On Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 4:06 PM, Terry Munro <> wrote:

I've been watching a Wattlebirds nest that I believe has been parasitised by a Koel. A young dead Wattlebird chick is hanging outside the nest & the chick being fed by the adult Wattlebirds isn't making the normal bzzzt bzzt calls of a young wattlebird. I can't see inside the nest because it is too high. Over the past month there was a lot of Koel activity in the area. I am keeping a close eye on what happens.

Terry Munro



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