The Two Faces of Koel

IMG_1763cIf I were to ask you whether these two birds are related, what would you say?






One of them looks like a Black Crow or Asian Glossy Starling (red eyes) while the other looks like a Spotted-necked Dove or Zebra Dove.  So how can they possibly be related in whatsoever way? But what if I were to tell you that these two birds are one and the same; they represent the two faces of the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus)? Read on…..



One bright sunny morning, there was a commotion among the branches of the Flame of the Forest tree across the street from my house. I quickly scanned the location of the noise with my camera and saw a black crow-like bird astride another brown-speckled bird like as though they were fighting. The black one had a noni fruit (Morinda citrifolia) in its beak, so it would appear that it had taken the fruit by force from the brown one.  But as I continued snapping away, not daring to lift my eye from the camera sight, it became clear what the black bird was doing to the brown bird.

It seemed to be a ritual of sorts where the black one was offering a fruit (noni fruit) to the brown one. I later discovered the black one was a male Asian Koel, while the brown one was a female Asian Koel !

The female Koel was initially resisting the male’s overture but eventually succumbed to the male’s very persistent (and aggressive) offering. She finally accepted the fruit and the male looked on contentedly. What a show!

2 thoughts on “The Two Faces of Koel”

  1. This bird is loud and noisy. Screaming throughout the day. I understand they lay their eggs in the crows nest. Wait for it to hatch. Then they try to remove the crows little ones so that theirs will survive. Very cunning. Have quite a number of them in my area esp.around chinese new year time.

    1. You are right, the Koel is a “brood parasite” which lays its eggs in the nests of crows and other hosts, who raise the Koel’s young.
      Apparently, the male will hunt for a good crow’s nest and then call to its mate to lay its egg (usually only 1 egg) among the crow’s eggs. The Koel chick tends to be hatched first and it may eject the crow’s eggs or chicks out of the nest. In that sense, the Koel helps keep the crow’s population in check.
      Interesting fact. Thanks.

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