FW: [canberrabirds] Seasonal Canberra

To: "" <>
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] Seasonal Canberra
From: Geoffrey Dabb <>
Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2019 05:11:59 +0000

Yes good, thanks.  The reason I said ‘complaint’ was to distinguish the situation from the more usual koel interactive excitement, which I excluded as a possibility. Speaking of recurrent seasonal events, just across the street from the lorikeet-infested ironbark the wire-festooned ex-magpie nest again has its frogmouth family – possibly 3 chicks in there.


An owl perched on a tree branch

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From: Philip Veerman <>
Sent: Friday, 11 October 2019 12:10 PM
To: 'Geoffrey Dabb' <>;
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Seasonal Canberra


Hi Geoffrey,


Thanks for that. Yes sure, I know you have probably done the most describing of Koel calls to us, of anyone. The use of complaint call is evocative of your intent….. Just my opinion and to allow a functional description, I suggest that “excitement call” seems more likely to be a suitable name (if needed) than “complaint call”. It can be assumed correct to cater for its many possible uses. At least as far as our hearing permits, as in there may be nuances that we can’t detect.




From: Geoffrey Dabb
Sent: Friday, 11 October, 2019 10:27 AM
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] Seasonal Canberra


Thank you Philip. I acknowledge your caution about attributing a purpose to a sound made by an animal.  Be deaf to the dawn chorus.  Ignore the croaking froglet.  But take care near growling dogs.   


It is not possible in a short message to call up all the cumulative background that leads to a conclusion expressed in the message. To read a message in any other way is to adopt an absurdly literalist approach to what is being communicated. Over the years I have described many examples of koel calls on this chatline, including early descriptions of the ‘wirra’ and ‘kek-kek’ calls.  From many observations I have no doubt that the ‘kek-kek’ call, when given by the female, is an excitement call. That is to say it is prompted by the presence either of another koel or  another species interacting with the koel.  In general the kek-kek conveys either complaint or warning or sexual excitement  -  as in response to a male call.   Sound-agnostics are free to disagree.       


From: Philip Veerman <>
Sent: Friday, 11 October 2019 9:34 AM
To: 'Geoffrey Dabb' <>;
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Seasonal Canberra


About “This was a female koel responding to nearby wattlebirds, making a ‘complaint call’. “  The context and sentence is that this was the Koel call but as it was responding to nearby wattlebirds (so presumably they were calling) then “making a complaint call’ could also be read that the ‘complaint call’ was being made by the Wattlebirds. A wonky but possible misunderstanding. …… Is kek-kek-kek  the complaint call? Long ago when I was a student, I was taught that animal calls should be described by their sound and not named for their purpose, because we might have misunderstood their purpose. If, after study, it becomes clear that we do know their purpose, then we can by pass that rule. And now we often do, because it is so much more convenient.


I suggest however that the Wattlebirds have more to complain about than the Koel. Yes the Koels get a lot of agro from the RW. They deserve it. Not to be moralistic of course……….




From: Tyrie Starrs
Sent: Friday, 11 October, 2019 9:03 AM
To: ; 'Geoffrey Dabb';
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Seasonal Canberra


We heard our first Koel of the season in Wanniassa on Saturday  (5 Oct).

From: <m("","jandaholland");">>
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2019 8:52:34 AM
To: 'Geoffrey Dabb' <>; <m("","canberrabirds");">>
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Seasonal Canberra


Well done Geoffrey, as far as I’m aware the first Koel report in Canberra for this season, there are none on the eBird Australia map so far when I just checked.


And for the first Koel reported to be a female is most remarkable, possibly the immature one Rob Parnell snapped not far from you in June?


Is any subscriber aware of any other reports for this new season?


Jack Holland


From: Geoffrey Dabb <>
Sent: Friday, 11 October 2019 8:46 AM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Seasonal Canberra


As we know from the recent COG survey, there are different views about what people like to read about on this chatline. Some people like to know about bins and dogs, others not so much. Whatever, at 7am today, having done the early dog walk and put up the bins, I was idly snapping about a dozen lorikeets in a pink ironbark on the verge in Brockman St when I heard an explosive kek-kek-kek from a euc in Wylie St. This was a female koel responding to nearby wattlebirds, making a ‘complaint call’.  The bird flew off and I tracked it to about 100m away in Finniss Crescent, at the top of a pin oak. After a few keks it calmed down.  I watched it for about 10 minutes. It was giving occasional soft ‘oo-ers’, a sound that might also be rendered ‘wirra’, or perhaps even ‘koel’, but not repeated as a sequence. The bird was turning its head while calling  as if sounding out the neighbourhood.  I had a clear view of the tree and nearby trees and no other koels were seen or heard.  This is the first koel seen or heard in the neighbourhood so far this season.




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