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A photo of a Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus), male
Asian Koel, Male

Asian Koel

Eudynamys scolopaceus

The Asian koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) is a member of the cuckoo order, Cuculiformes, known for its glossy bluish-black plumage in males and spotted brown appearance in females. This large, long-tailed bird is notable for its brood parasitic behavior and frugivorous diet.

Identification Tips

Males are glossy bluish-black with a pale greenish-grey bill, crimson iris, and grey legs and feet. Females have a brownish crown with rufous streaks and dark brown back with white and buff spots. The underparts are whitish with heavy striping. Juveniles resemble males but have a black beak.

Habitat

The Asian koel inhabits light woodlands and areas of cultivation, adapting well to human-altered landscapes.

Distribution

This species is mainly resident across tropical southern Asia, from Iran and Pakistan through India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, to southern China and the Greater Sundas. It has shown remarkable colonization abilities, including the volcanic island of Krakatau.

Behaviour

The Asian koel is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of crows and other hosts. It does not always evict host eggs or chicks and has a unique pattern of moult differing from other parasitic cuckoos.

Song & Calls

The male's song is a repeated koo-Ooo, while the female emits a shrill kik-kik-kik. Calls can vary across populations.

Breeding

The Asian koel lays its eggs in host nests, timing it closely with the host's laying period. The koel chicks hatch earlier than the host's and are sometimes fed by the adult female koel.

Similar Species

The Asian koel forms a superspecies with the closely related black-billed koels and Pacific koels, which differ in plumage, bill color, and voice.

Diet and Feeding

Adults are largely frugivorous, defending fruiting trees and playing a role in seed dispersal. They also consume insects, caterpillars, and occasionally eggs and small vertebrates.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Asian koel as Least Concern, reflecting its wide distribution and stable population trends.

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