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Asian Koel

I always thought the cuckoo family had these tiny black birds that go ‘koohoo’ as the rainy season approaches.  I was in for a surprise when I realised that this fairly big black bird ( that I just identified) with a piercing red eye that gave me quite a fright, was the Asian Koel.  It nests in a neem tree that I only have a top view of.  The male generally keeps out of sight and ventures only when it wants to feed on the ripe papayya. 

Eudynamys scolopaceus – The Asian Koel  is a member of the cuckoo order. is a large, long-tailed, cuckoo at 45 cm. The adult male koel is jet black, unrelieved by any contrasting marking; its bill is ivory-yellow and iris brilliant red.

                                                                 The female Asian Koel looks like this –

The upper part of the adult female koel is dark brown and profusely spotted and tarred with white; it is white underneath, the bill is greenish in colour and the iris red.  The same crimson eye!  That’s how I realised they were related and then discovered that the black one was male and the striped one the female..

The Asian Koels are found wherever there are house crows as it is a brood parasite that lays its eggs in the nests of crows. All the chores like building the nest, incubating the eggs, nurturing the hatchlings are saddled on the crows! The koel breeding season synchronises with that of the crow.  The male Koel engages the crow in a chase, and in the meantime the female Koel lays the eggs in the crow’s nest.  All this is done in quick time.  The eggs are similar looking though smaller in size.  They hatch quicker than the crow’s eggs, gorges on all the food and is able to fly away just as the differences become evident!

Info – Wiki and the article in The Hindu 

Another great site for identification of birds –


2 responses »

  1. Radha, this is nice. Recording birds! I think I have seen the female bird also 2-3 times. I was not particular about photographing them at that time!

    Thank you.


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