More Koel interactions

To: "" <>
Subject: More Koel interactions
From: John Harris <>
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 2020 03:58:37 +0000

The male Koel, or is it THE Koel,  is back with a vengeance here in Kangaroo Crescent  and yet again I am tempted to wonder if it is the same one as previous years, preferring the same locality and the same tree.  I would prefer he did not start his strident wirra-wirraing at 4.30 am.

Last year’s experiences have encouraged me to observe more intentionally. There is the usual frantic agitation from the wattle birds. They seem to recognise and react to the wirra-wirra call. A few days after the male started calling TWO females turned up and that seemed to make the wattle birds even more frantic. I do not think that the wattle birds are actually nesting yet or at least I have not seen then nesting around here yet and they usually do.

The most interesting observation so far is that the two females fight each other. They both come to the male’s tree  but one female immediately attacks the other and tries to drive it off.

I will give you all the next instalment indue course .






From: Canberrabirds <> on behalf of <>
Date: Sunday, 22 November 2020 at 12:43 pm
To: 'Steve Read' <>, 'Jean Casburn' <>
Cc: <>
Subject: Re: [Canberrabirds] Male Koel feeds young Koel


Many thanks Steve, you do seem to be able to find things from the literature so much better than I can.


I have looked for this, or at least association/interaction between Koels and their fledglings, on quite a few occasions.  This includes during discussions on this chat line, suffice it to say I’ve often had a hard time convincing subscribers (and researchers) that there is any association (other than by pure chance), let alone actual interaction, between them.  In particular from last season there is now some evidence for the latter, even if it often is relatively passive.


I’ve had a quick look at both your references and note just two example with Koels, both with the Asian Koel which I recall is a different species or at least a different sub species.  The Sealy reference has several examples, but all coming from a 1904 paper.  So it is possibly unprecedented for the Eastern (or Pacific) Koel.


Thank you again for this very valuable reference, the chat line discussions have often been broader covering cuckoo species in general, so it’s very interesting to see examples included from two local cuckoos, in particular the Pallid Cuckoo.




Jack Holland


From: Steve Read <>
Sent: Sunday, 22 November 2020 11:31 AM
To: ; 'Jean Casburn' <>
Subject: RE: [Canberrabirds] Male Koel feeds young Koel


Hi Jack and Jean


Unusual behaviour certainly worthy of a report, but not altogether unprecedented. See attached review - Spencer Sealy is still active, and I was in touch with him only a couple of years ago.


Another example is





From: Canberrabirds <> On Behalf Of
Sent: Sunday, 22 November 2020 8:09 AM
To: 'Jean Casburn' <>; 'canberrabirds' <>
Subject: Re: [Canberrabirds] Male Koel feeds young Koel


Thank you Jean, to my knowledge this would be unprecedented. 


My summary of the 2019-2020 ACT Koel season, soon to be published in the December issue of CBN, will be accompanied by papers by Julie Clark and John Harris who both were able to watch Koel fledglings grow up in their gardens last summer for 77 and over 30 days, respectively.  Julie had both male (mainly) and female Koels close to her fledgling on several occasions, whereas John had a male close to his fledgling for much of its stay.  However, importantly, in neither case was the adult Koel ever seen to feed the fledgling, as opposed to the Red Wattlebird host which fed the fledglings mince and plums, respectively.  There seemed to be an association rather than a direct interaction.


The timing is a possible issue.  Koels certainly did arrive a bit earlier this year, some at the very end of September/many early October.  With the known maximum time from egg laying to fledgling of 37 days, this is about 50 days ago.  So I guess it’s possible but very tight, if the egg was laid almost immediately and the fledgling is now quite a large golden bird (in my experience some are very golden indeed).  The previous earliest fledgling date I’ve documented is in the GBS week starting 4 December, ie about 3 weeks from now.


So I would be very grateful if you could get some further details from your friend, in particular what was being fed to the fledgling, eg mince or similar from a feeding table/area, or was it foraging naturally for insects or fruit.  Other information as to the date it was first observed, the suburb etc would be important, a photo of the fledgling etc if at all possible would be lovely.


Many thanks for bringing this potentially very important observation to our attention.


Jack Holland


From: Canberrabirds <> On Behalf Of Jean Casburn
Sent: Saturday, 21 November 2020 4:20 PM
To: 'canberrabirds' <>
Subject: [Canberrabirds] Male Koel feeds young Koel


A golfing friend told me story about a Koel she routinely feeds with fruit.  This Koel brought a small fledgling into the garden and proceeded to feed it as it kept on growing – now quite a large beautiful golden bird. She wondered if this is an uncommon behaviour on the part of a male bird? She knows that is usually the Red Wattlebird that raises Koel chicks.

Has anyone seen similar?

Murrumbidgee golf course is currently host to hundreds of Wood Ducks and chicks of all sizes. Three Black-fronted Dotterel returned last week after long absence.



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