Up Close: Watching Asian Koel

Koel, a member of the cuckoo family, is commonly sighted in India. Having heard their melodious sound/calls since childhood, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to these birds (I confess) until I started appreciating nature more than I used to and also as I developed some interest in ornithology after coming across too many interesting birds on my travels.

The call of the Koel had always been pleasant to listen to, but I would seldom catch a glimpse of them hidden smartly in the dense foliage, and also, as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really look them up as much as I enjoyed listening the koel sound in the background.

Koel of Cuckoo family, male

A few days ago, however, I heard a loud and sweet sound of koel from this tree in front of the house. Perched on a branch, with almost bare tree it was clearly visible from the balcony. The koel sat there for a long time, enough for me to first get a nice long look at it through the camera and also to try and get some shots. It sat there singing leisurely and so I also tried to shoot a bit of the action – but as I am not so great with camera so didn’t do a particularly good job there. Nevertheless, enjoy the song of the cuckoo koel – video at the end of this post (kindly ignore the shaky/blurry video)

Apparently it’s the male koel that sings to lure a female koel. It’s common to hear the koel sounds around months of April to September.

Male Koel bird

This one here is a male koyal bird, it has an overall black plumage whereas a female koel bird is more brownish in colour with white dots all over. Both the male and female koel birds have ruby red eyes. Another interesting fact I had read about koel birds is that the female koel lays eggs in other birds’ nests, particularly, crow’s nest as the eggs of the two birds are quite similar in colour and pattern. I find pigeons to be slow and lazy, but even a mommy pigeon had built a nest (in our balcony) to lay eggs, so I assume there’s a good reason why koel wouldn’t build its nest. Well, I should read up about that another time.

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