To: 'John Harris' <>, "" <>, 'chatline' <>
Subject: Juvenile.Koel
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:34:37 +0000

I will just add a bit to this: John wrote: . It looked like the Wattlebird was giving the Koel chick a large piece of plum, not something regurgitated.


That would be right. Regurgitation is a method used by only some groups of birds to feed young (surely a minority). Generally used by seed eaters (finches and parrots) and birds that eat fish out in the ocean and need to travel a long way carrying food and fed only once a day. I believe hummingbirds also do that, as it is difficult to transport nectar. But I don’t know of many others. Birds that feed young frequently, generally don’t use regurgitation for feeding young. They usually just carry food in the beak or feet.


Yes it is noted that Koels and some other cuckoos may appear to show some interest in young when nearly becoming independent. It may also be that they want to be in a fruiting tree whilst the young also want to be there even though it is just the fosters that are feeding them. Currawongs will still show an interest in a predation opportunity, if not just harassment.




From: John Harris [
Sent: Saturday, 18 January, 2020 7:44 PM
To: ; 'chatline'
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Juvenile.Koel


Thanks Jack, You are right of course that an adult Koel is a parasite would not be likely to feed a chick but it was hanging around and taking some kind of interest and I wondered if it was.

You are doubly right as, since I posted the information earlier, I have twice seen a Wattlebird feed the Koel chick. It and other Wattlebirds are getting fruit from the plum tree. It looked like the Wattlebird was giving the Koel chick a large piece of plum, not something regurgitated.

There is a lot of curiosity from other birds. Even Currawongs seem to be following the action. Mudlarks were trying to drive the Koel away but the mudlarks also attacked the wattlebirds, perhaps by association. The adult Koel is still looking on. The Koel chick may fly to a more distant tree but it soon comes back to the trees closest to the plums.





From: "" <>
Date: Saturday, 18 January 2020 at 5:43 pm
To: John Harris <>, chatline <>
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Juvenile.Koel


John, thank you for this interesting posting.


I may be misinterpreting your message, but it is most unlikely that the male Koel would be feeding the fledgling since the species is a brood parasite (it’s a cuckoo).  It’s most likely that the Red Wattlebird you have seen around is the host, as it has been for all but a couple of the 300+ fledglings in the ACT that I’m aware of.


You have, however, made a very important observation of an adult male associating/interacting with a fledgling, something for which there is now quite a bit of evidence as included in my summaries of the past seasons written up in CBN (see for example ).  There are also examples of other birds interacting with fledglings, including the Pied Currawong.




Jack Holland


From: John Harris <>
Sent: Saturday, 18 January 2020 5:02 PM
To: chatline <>
Subject: [canberrabirds] Juvenile.Koel


A juvenile koel has been hanging around my backyard and nearby trees for the past three days. It gives away its location by its constant cheep – cheep -cheeping. I have seen a male, presumably the parent, nearby and in my heavily-laden plum trees which I take to be the reason they hang about here. I have seen this male on the branch beside the juvenile although I have not actually seen him feeding it. I presume he does.

Their presence creates great interest among other birds, red wattle birds, etc. Even the currawongs are interested for some reason.





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