DY Koel

To: 'Nathanael Coyne' <>
Subject: DY Koel
From: Virginia Abernathy <>
Date: Sun, 24 Jan 2016 11:35:41 +0000

Hi Nathanael,

The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike has been parasitized by the koel before, but this is a very uncommon host. There is a hypothesis that individual cuckoos probably imprint on the host parent that raised them, so that when they are adults, they are more likely to lay eggs in that same species' nest, which perpetuates specialization on a few hosts.

The Channel-billed Cuckoo does use Magpies and Currawongs as hosts, so this is probably another reason why koels don't use them. Less competition with a larger cuckoo.

There actually are some cuckoos that parasitize hosts larger than themselves. One of these is the Asian Koel, which is the sister subspecies of the Eastern Koel in Australia. But I think it would be too difficult for the Eastern Koel to use larger hosts because in order to survive they have to knock all the host eggs out of the nest and this might be difficult if they are raised with larger hosts.

I'm happy to talk more about this if you want! &#X1f60a



From: Philip Veerman <>
Sent: 24 January 2016 18:39
To: 'Nathanael Coyne'
Cc: 'COG Mailing List'; Virginia Abernathy
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] DY Koel



There is a research going on into this locally, see message by Virginia Abernathy [] from 3/9/2015 which I have copied below: So in answer yes we know and it is particularly interesting as to why they are so restricted here and to look at if and how the RW are adapting. About your suggestion of magpies, currawongs, black-faced cuckoo shrikes and crested pigeons as well as the hollow nesters like the nearby rainbow lorikeets and galahs. Cuckoos generally are very selective and those choices you mention are way out for a Koel. Also most Cuckoos around the world mostly parasitise birds much smaller than themselves, so the bit you note about it looks rather difficult for a large koel to manoeuvre down to the nest is very ordinary for them, though they have developed ways of doing that too.





Dear COG,

I am an ANU PhD student working on koels in both Canberra and Sydney. Some of you may already be familiar with my research, but just in case you are not, I am looking at how quickly hosts of the koel can evolve defences, as the koel is a relatively recent addition to Canberra and only recently began using the Red Wattlebird as its primary host in Sydney and Canberra. I've been conducting nest experiments at wattlebird nests, as well as at nests of two older hosts: the Magpie-larks and Noisy Friarbirds.

During the first year of the study in Canberra, the COG members were incredibly helpful and encouraging, assisting me with locating nests and koel fledglings. This year I will have two field assistants in Canberra while I remain in Sydney. I have CCed both of them on this email so you can get in touch with them directly. My request is if you happen to find any host nests, host fledglings, or see koel activity (especially female koels, koel fledglings, ect) that you let them know so they can investigate. Any stage of host nest is usable for my project.

Both assistants have been through the ANU Animal Ethics training course and have all the proper permits and experience for conducting this work. I have also been/will be training them before they start work on their own.

I thank all of you for your help in the past and look forward to a great and exciting new season!




May the koels be with you!



From: Nathanael Coyne [
Sent: Sunday, 24 January 2016 6:16 PM
To: Philip Veerman
Cc: COG Mailing List
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] DY Koel


Do we know if Koels prefer Red Wattlebirds as foster parents and their nests for laying their own eggs? It sounds like a popular choice ... but given the location of the nest across the road from me where I've been watching a koel grow up over the past month amongst a dense pepper tree it looks rather difficult for a large koel to manoeuvre down to the nest so it must have been particularly attractive over the other nearby nests of magpies, currawongs, black-faced cuckoo shrikes and crested pigeons as well as the hollow nesters like the nearby rainbow lorikeets and galahs.



Nathanael Coyne is a design, business and photography blog by UX designer Nathanael Coyne (Boehm). I am currently employed as a Senior UX Designer at Technocrat.

Canberra, Australia
0431 698 580


On 24 January 2016 at 17:37, Philip Veerman <m("","pveerman");" target="_blank">> wrote:

This afternoon there has been a young Koel in my yard, indeed just outside my window. Only calls are a simple weak squeak. Perched in dense bushes among grapes. Able to fly but not too keen on flying. I just saw another either young Koel or adult female and a RW go near it at the same time. I think the RW fed it but too hard to see among all the fluttering in the bushes.


Philip Veerman

Kambah  ACT  2902



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