Asian Koel


In Sri Lanka the distinct “Ko-Hoo” sound of the male Asian Koel is associated with the timing of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year which is in mid April. When I was a kid, I was told that the sound of the Koel meant that the New Year was on it’s way. Ko-Hoo meant happiness, school holidays and the favourite time of the year.

Koels have elaborate courting behavior. For example, I watched a male Koel trying to please a very proud female Koel by offering her fruits. After moving away a few times she finally accepted his gift and he went straight ahead with the business he had in his mind. Only if human motivations were as clear as that! But then, life won’t be as fun..

Here’s the Koel:

Male Asian Koel (a Cuckoo)
Male Asian Koel (a Cuckoo)

Strangely enough, the females of this species are more saliently dressed up than the males. The female Koel is brown with light brown streaks all over, and generally seen much less than the male. For the time I stayed at my house in Sri Lanka, I only saw the female bird once while the male came to the feeders often and took away food for the female (I assume) as the Koels don’t raise their young.

Koel, also called "Koha" in Sinhala
Koel, also called “Koha” in Sinhala

When I was a kid I had a story book about a Koel baby who hatched in a Crow’s nest. Initially the crow parents took care of everyone equally but with time they realized that one of the babies were different. It did not behave like the others and even looked slightly different. The other baby birds started ostracising the poor little Koel baby. While I don’t remember what happened to it in the end, I was deeply touched by the little Koel’s circumstances.

I must still have that book with me; I will look for it when I go back.

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