End of the Koel Saga

To: 'Philip Veerman' <>, 'Canberra Birds' <>
Subject: End of the Koel Saga
From: "" <>
Date: Sat, 29 Feb 2020 01:15:19 +0000

This is a issue that I have wondered about since I first saw some possible evidence for it with the first fledglings I found in Chapman/Rivett in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.


Below is what I’ve most recently published on it in Section 5.8 of my summary of the 2017-2018 season in CBN ( 43(3) 274-289 (2018).


Jack Holland


Extract from CBN

To me a question which keeps arising is why Koels, both males and females, still call so late in the season, right up to when they would be heading North, unlike our other local cuckoos which are usually silent after Christmas. The theory which seems to have gained most acceptance is that they are imprinting the call - so again why do other cuckoos not do the same? Based on very similar observations to Denise Kay’s and Barbara Allan’s (see 3 and 4 Mar entries in Table 4, respectively) of the adults arriving once their fledglings were independent, I had formed the theory that they arrive to escort them up North (Holland, 2015), but I have not observed this since and the imprinting theory seems to have prevailed.


One thing that is clear is that there are now quite a few local examples of adults and fledgling/juvenile Koels interacting (see Discussion in Holland 2018b, Part II this issue).



From: Philip Veerman <>
Sent: Friday, 28 February 2020 10:00 PM
To: 'Canberra Birds' <>
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] End of the Koel Saga


It would indeed be interesting to know if adult Koels have a role in guiding or accompanying young birds on their first migration, their own young or even unrelated ones. Given that they have no role in raising them (but it seems they stay in the vicinity), it is a tantalising and curious concept.




From: Denise Kay
Sent: Friday, 28 February, 2020 7:56 PM
To: John Harris
Cc: Canberra Birds
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] End of the Koel Saga


Wildcare have done a great job as usual , its not an easy job raising a Koel chick 


On 28 Feb 2020, at 4:53 pm, John Harris <> wrote:


The dramatic  saga of the juvenile Koel in my plum tree and the attending male waiting to guide its northward flight has a (sort of) happy ending.

People from Wildcare Queanbeyan read my posts. They had a rescued juvenile Koel which was ready to be released. When they read of ‘my’ juvenile Koel , that there was plenty of food here, and that he had a guide waiting for him, they contacted me and came and released it in my yard.

I cannot honestly say that I saw the released bird after that. I saw and heard a juvenile Koel for about a week after that but do not know which one I was hearing or if it was both. I stopped hearing the juvenile calls about a week ago, only the male wirra wirra.

I have seen or heard nothing for a week now. I presume they are on their journey north. I hope they make it.



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