Cuckoo calling : The Asian Koel
In the next installment of his series on the birds of NhavaSheva, Sylvester Alphonso talks about the Asian koel.
While ruminating on my completion of a year with TS Rahaman at Nhava Sheva, I wonder at the beauty around me. The campus is worth having a look, with its large number of avian species.
One of the most popular birds is the Asian koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus). The typical kuhoo kuhoo of this bird reminds us of the arrival of spring or the monsoon as we say. The koel has a melodious voice, mesmerizing and joyous. There are many songs from popular Bollywood movies with reference to the melodious voice of koels, for example, “koel kyon gaye”, “koel boli duniya doli”and many more. The koel is a muse for many poets as well.
The male koel is dark bluish-black in color, with red eyes & greenish-grey beak, while the female is brown with a rufous streaks on its head; and is often mistaken for a falcon.
This bird feeds mainly on fruits but can also eat insects. The koel never builds a nest, laying its egg in another’s nest, particularly the crow. This behavior of the brood parasite is cunningly carried out, where the male koel distracts the crow in its nest. The crow gets up from the nest and chases the male koel. The female koel then goes and lays her egg in the crow’s nest. The poor crow is then left to bring up the koel chick along with his baby crow. Like the coucal, the koel is also a member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes.