Asian Koel

Asian Koel

name = Asian Koel

image_width = 240px
image_caption = Female
status = LC
status_system = iucn3.1
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Cuculiformes
familia = Cuculidae
genus = "Eudynamys"
species = "E. scolopaceus"
binomial = "Eudynamys scolopaceus"
binomial_authority = Linnaeus, 1758
syonyms ="Eudynamis honorata" "Eudynamys scolopacea"

The Asian Koel ("Eudynamys scolopacea"), formerly also Common Koel, is a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes, which also includes such birds as the roadrunners, the anis, and couas. It is found from southern Asia, China, and into Australia. The subspecies found in the Philippines is sometimes known as the Philippine Koel. Like many cuckoos, it lays its eggs in other birds' nests.

The word "koel" also means "nightingale" in India because of the Indian Koel's melodious call. It is also colloquially known as the Rainbird or Stormbird in eastern Australia, as its call is supposed to foreshadow rain.


The Asian Koel is a large, long-tailed, cuckoo at 45 cm. The male is bluish-black, with a pale green bill, rich red eyes, and grey legs and feet. The female is brownish above and whitish below, but is heavily striped and spotted brown on the underparts and white on the upperparts. She has an olive or green beak and red eyes.

Koels are very vocal, with a number of different calls.


About fifteen subspecies are recognized:Payne, R. B. 2005. The Cuckoos. Oxford University Press.]
*"Eudynamys scolopacea scolopacea" (Linnaeus, 1758); Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Laccadives, Maldives;
*"Eudynamys scolopacea chinensis" (Cabanis and Heine,1863); southern China, continental Indochina;
*"Eudynamys scolopacea harterti" (Ingram, 1912); Hainan;
*"Eudynamys scolopacea malayana" (Cabanis and Heine, 1863); S Burma,Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Bangka, Lesser Sundas, Lombok,Sumbawa, Satonda, ?Komodo, Flores, Besar, Paloe),Borneo;
*"Eudynamys scolopacea mindanensis" (Linnaeus,1766) (includes E. s. paraguena (Hachisuka, 1934),from Palawan, and E. s. corvina (Stresemann, 1931),from Halmahera); the Philippines (including Palawan and Babuyanes Islands), islands NE of Sulawesi (Talaud Islands (Karakelong,Lirung), Sangihe, Siau, Ruang, Manterawu); northern Moluccas (Morotai, Halmahera, Ternate, Tidore, Moti, Bacan);
*"Eudynamys scolopacea rufiventer" (Lesson, 1830); New Guinea (except southern Irian Jaya);
*"Eudynamys scolopacea minima" van Oordt 1911;southwestern New Guinea;
*"Eudynamys scolopacea salvadorii" Hartert, 1900; Bismarck Archipelago;
*"Eudynamys scolopacea hybrida" Diamond, 2000;Long Island, between New Guinea and New Britain;
*"Eudynamys scolopacea alberti" Rothschild and Hartert, 1907; Solomon Islands;
*"Eudynamys scolopacrea melanorhyncha" S. Müller, 1843; Sulawesi, Banggai, Muna, Togian Islands, Peleng and Sula Islands (Taliabu, Seho);
*"Eudynamys scolopacea orientalis" (Linnaeus, 1766)(includes E. s. picata S. Müller, 1843); C and S Moluccas (Buru, Manipa, Kelang, Seram, Ambon, Tujuh,Watubela Islands);
* "Eudynamys scolopacea everetti" Hartert 1900; Sumba to Timor and Roma, Kai Islands;
* "Eudynamys scolopacea cyanocephala" (Latham 1801);Torres Strait islands north to Boigu and Darnley, N and E Queensland, west to the lower Norman River and north to Cape York and islands off the east coast as far as the Capricorn group, and in New South Wales;
* "Eudynamys scolopacea subcyanocephala" Mathews, 1912; northern Australia (Western Australia, Northern Territories, western Queensland south to Mt Isa and Dolomote and east to the Cloncurry); migrant to New Guinea.

Distribution and habitat

The Asian Koel is a bird of light woodland and cultivation. It is a mainly resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from India and Sri Lanka to south China and Australasia. Birds at the fringes of the range, such as much of Eastern Australia, and on high ground are summer visitors, migrating to warmer areas in winter. They have great potential in colonizing new areas. They first arrived in Singapore in the 1980s and became very common birds.


It is a brood parasite, and lays its single egg in the nests of a variety of birds, including the Jungle Crow, cite book|author=Goodwin D.|year=1983|title=Crows of the World |publisher=Queensland University Press, St Lucia, Qld|id=ISBN 0-7022-1015-3] House Crow and various species of honeyeaters. In Sri Lanka it has been noted to parasitize only the Jungle Crow until the 1880 and only later shifted to the House Crow. [Phillips, W. W. A. (1948). Cuckoo problems of Ceylon. Spolia Zeylanica 25:45-60] May also parasitize Black-headed Orioles. [Sethi, V. K., Saxena, V and Bhatt, D. 2006. An instance of the Asian Koel "Eudynamys scolopacea" destroying the nest of a Black-headed Oriole "Oriolus xanthornus". Indian Birds 2(6):173-174] The young Koel does not always evict its host's chicks, and initially calls like a crow. The adult koels however may not be leaving their offspring alone entirely:This behaviour of brood parasites feeding their young has been noted in several other species. [Janice C. Lorenzana and Spencer G. Sealy (1998) Adult brood parasites feeding nestlings and fledglings of their own species: A review. J. Field Ornithol., 69(3):364-375 [] ] The note alluded to by Richard Lydekker is probably that of A. O. Hume which was noted by Fulton in 1904. [Fulton, R. 1904. The Kohoperoa or Koekoea, Long-tailed Cuckoo (Urodynamis taitensis): an account of its habits, description of a nest containing its (supposed) egg, and a suggestion as to how the parasitic habit in birds has become established. Trans. N. Z. Inst. 36:113-148.]


The Asian Koel is omnivorous, consuming a variety of insects, caterpillars, eggs and small vertebrates. Adults predominanty feed on fruit. It has occasionally been known to take eggs of small birds. [Uttangi, J. C. 2004. Robbing of eggs by female Koel, from the nest of Red-whiskered Bulbul ("Pycnonotus jocosus"). Newsletter for Birdwatchers 44 (5): 77.]




* Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
* Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol, Inskipp, Tim & Byers, Clive (1999): "Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives". Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.. ISBN 0-691-04910-6
* Slater, Peter & Calaby, John H. (1970): "A field guide to Australian birds (Non-passerines)". Rigby, Adelaide. ISBN 0-85179-102-6

External links

* [ Song of the Indian Koel]
* [ Asian Koel videos on the Internet Bird Collection]

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