Eastern Koel Vs. Brush-tailed Possum

To: 'John Layton' <>, 'Canberra birds' <>
Subject: Eastern Koel Vs. Brush-tailed Possum
From: jandaholland--- via Canberrabirds <>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 2022 22:07:42 +0000

Many thanks John for posting your very interesting set of observations. 


Koel/possum interactions have not come to my attention before.  Also it seems to have been a significant one for several Koels to continue calling so late into the evening, my local experience is up to about an hour after dark, though they do more often call from early in the morning.  They are certainly very mobile and my experience is that often the same few birds moving around are making the calls from different places.  They also are very ventriloqual, most subscribers would have experienced the difficulty in finding (especially males) calling loudly close by from within a tree.


Interesting too is that after the unprecedented activity around my place for around 10 days in mid-October, Koels have gone very quiet here over the past month, increasingly as time has gone on.




Jack Holland


From: Canberrabirds <> On Behalf Of John Layton via Canberrabirds
Sent: Friday, 18 November 2022 6:56 AM
To: Canberra birds <>
Subject: [Canberrabirds] Eastern Koel Vs. Brush-tailed Possum


At 20:10 h on 16 November 2022 at my home in Holt I heard loud, repetitive wirra wirra calls of a male Eastern Koel together with the grunting, hissing sounds of an agitated Brush-tailed Possum.

I went outside where the light was receding rapidly and, with cautious use of a torch, located the possum crouched on a power cable above my property boundary. With its shoulders hunched and head thrust forward while hissing and snarling, it manifested extreme aggression as it crept towards the koel perched three metres away. When it came to within two metres of the koel the latter moved to a higher strand of cable and gave two more penetrating wirra wirra calls before flying away. Scarcely had the male departed than a female landed on the same spot, gave three extremely strident, brassy keekking calls and left.


When the female koel alighted and called, the possum immediately inverted and, with its prehensile tail looped around the cable, scurried away into the gathering dark seemingly as quickly as if it had remained upright, paws surging like pistons in a horizontally-opposed engine. Incidentally, possums seem to use cables as pathways through the suburbs.


Soon after I went indoors, koels began calling from several locations in the nearby area, or perhaps there may have been only one or two birds moving around. Another thought: in my limited experience with koels, they are ventriloqual, or somehow appear to be. Anyhow, I could hear the calls until I retired at 11:00 h.


I woke around dawn and they were still calling although less frequently as the light increased, ceasing some 20 minutes after  sunrise. This incident seems all the more remarkable because koels remain unusual in my area of Holt.


John Layton


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