Where have all the koels gone?

To: Philip Veerman <>, 'John Harris' <>, 'chatline' <>
Subject: Where have all the koels gone?
From: Jack & Andrea Holland <>
Date: Sat, 9 Feb 2019 01:03:06 +0000
Thanks John and Philip,
I agree with Philip’s comments and I think the answer is that nobody really knows how they manage to fly N when so relatively recently fledged.  In my latest series of papers summarising the 2017-2018 Canberra Koel season (December 2018 issue of CBN, pp252-289) there are quite a few examples of fledglings still being fed by Red Wattlebirds in late February early March close to the time they would be leaving.  There is also some evidence that they are vulnerable at this time based on the ones taken into care that Denise Kay reported.
Certainly in my area the Koels have been much quieter over the past fortnight, but there is still the occasional call and a couple of days ago 2 males and 1 female were calling very loudly at the same time.  This was similar to what they had been doing for most of the summer previously.  So it’s hard to tell whether some have gone (I expect so) or they are simply much quieter.
Jack Holland
PS John no fledglings from your area after all the activity?
Sent: Saturday, February 9, 2019 10:38 AM
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Where have all the koels gone?

Jack is the main one collecting data on this. The situation with this species is changing all the time and we are seeing this over the last few years. Remember The GBS Report stated “no breeding records –yet”. So a lot has changed and still may do.


There is still the adult presence at my home. Even though there would appear to be no real need for them to still be as vocal. I suggest the answer to your 1st question is both or just that they are not so vocal around your place. I suggest the logical answer to your last question is yes. Although the context of your question more fits the situation where a bird needs to be fully ready for a big migration with stored fat, like a passerine flying over ocean. But this is probably not relevant to the Koel. Possibly they may not necessarily be fully grown before commencing the journey. They can feed and grow as they travel. I don’t know. That would require much study to know the answer to that. The main requirement for migration of a terrestrial bird over land is that most movement is in the correct direction.


I have had 2 different juveniles at home. One well grown, 25 Jan, one much younger one on 7 Feb.


From: John Harris [
Sent: Saturday, 9 February, 2019 10:14 AM
To: chatline
Subject: [canberrabirds] Where have all the koels gone?


After being Koel City here in Gungahlin, suddenly the absence of Wirra Wirra-ing is obvious.

Do this mean that they are on their way back to PNG etc or just that the frenzied mating season has cooled?

And does any knowledgeable person know how soon the juveniles can fly north? The Annual report suggests last reported sighting of Koels is March. Does this mean all juveniles are fully grown by then and able to fly the long journey north?





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