End of the Koel Saga

To: Philip Veerman <>, 'Canberra Birds' <>
Subject: End of the Koel Saga
From: John Harris <>
Date: Sat, 29 Feb 2020 05:11:55 +0000
My recent Koel experience has made me very curious about the possibility of adut Koels mentoring juveniles. I am of course far from the first to observe such an interaction and there are suggestions that adults may be imprinting their call or even preparing to lead the young birds on their northern migration. I should perhaps record exactly what I observed.
When I first reported the commotion in my plum tree, the male Koel was staying so close to the begging juvenile that I was briefly tempted to wonder if he was actually feeding it. After more careful observation over a few days, I saw the Red Wattlebird pair feeding the young Koel. At the same time they kept trying to drive the adult Koel away. That is obviously a very strong instinct in Wattlebirds.
This aggression was the source of the commotion together with curious random birds coming to watch including Currawongs wondering if there was anything to predate.
The Wattlebirds succeeded eventually in driving the male Koel further away although he was reluctant, at first  returning to the plum tree. He eventually gave in and hid himself quietly in a nearby tree. I could always locate him but only because I knew he was there hiding himself. He made no sound.
I saw the juvenile begin to take fruit for itself. The Wattlebirds very soon stopped feeding it although it continued to beg. The Wattlebirds, however, then left and abandoned the young Koel to fend for itself. The male remained nearby and began to call its wirra wirra now that it was no longer wary of revealing its presence and drawing the aggression of the Wattlebirds. The juvenile sometimes roosted in the tree where the adult was and returned to the plum tree. 
It was at about this stage that Wildcare  released the juvenile Koel at my place. For about another 10 days, the male continued to call wirra wirra and I saw a juvenile Koel several times but I do not know which one I was observing becauseI did not see both at once.
I heard the last wirra wirra about a week ago. I presume them to have migrated north although it is also true that the plums have finished.
Are they together?

Rev Dr John Harris,
36 Kangaroo Close,
Nicholls, ACT 2913
P: 61-(0)2-62418472

From: Philip Veerman <>
Sent: Friday, February 28, 2020 9:59:38 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.



Message protected by MailGuard: e-mail anti-virus, anti-spam and content filtering.

Report this message as spam  
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the Canberra Ornithologists Group mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the list contact David McDonald, list manager, phone (02) 6231 8904 or email . If you can not contact David McDonald e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU