Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pacific Koels in Tenterfield

Mistaken identity
Pacific KoelEastern Koel
This bird (left image) has been mistaken for this
bird (right image) here in Tenterfield. I have not
seen any birds that look like the bird on the left
here in Tenterfield. I have seen one bird that
looks like the bird on the right though.
Calls - Listen
The male Common Koel advertises its presence by a loud ascending whistle or 'koo-el', monotonously repeated; the call of the female is a repetitive 'keek-keek-keek-keek'. Males often call throughout the day and well into the night.

I have only seen one Pacific Koel (a male) up close when it happened to be raining earlier this year, and it was about 20-25cms in length. It was thin looking. The bird was about 20 feet from where I stood on the side rafter of the open car garage. It had more of a broad body look with short but wide tail feathers rather than long tail feathers like that of an Eastern Koel and had the deepest of red eyes. It looked and sounded like an Eastern Koel but shorter and stockier than what it was supposed to be recognised as for that particular species. Not being able to get a photo of it I can only guess but I found an image on the Internet that shows the bird I saw. It appears to be, perhaps, a subspecies of the Eastern Koel, or something like that. It also had the noticable red eyes and black plumage but it was more jet-midnight black in colour (like the male Satin Bowerbird or the Torresian Crow), but apart from that it was hard to recognize as it was drenched from the rain and it's feathers were not all entirely in their proper places. So I could not actually determine if it had a coloured tinge to it's feathers or not. When it was raining the Koel was regularly but infrequently calling out to other birds.

As these birds are rarely seen in Tenterfield, and I was fortunate enough to see one up close, I can say that these birds don't look like your typical Eastern Koels which are supposed to exist in town.

All individual specimens of these Pacific Koel birds in the south-western section of Tenterfield appear to be of the male gender. I have heard at least 3-4 males over the summer period in the area but one male seems to have moved permanently into the area roosting in a nearby pine or gum tree at my neighbour's house.

In some instances these Koels do move on to other areas if there are no females to mate with in Tenterfield.

The Tenterfield Pacific Koel population is very small, consisting of at least one permanent male plus a few neighbouring males in the south-west corner of the township, or I am hearing an echo of that same bird coming from many directions at once which is also time lagged.

A few years back some Pacific Koel males did move out of Tenterfield due to the drought. There is a male Pacific Koel that has a large territory of at least 2-3 kilometers. The known local permanent resident is known to roost in nearby tall trees. It can be heard calling prior to the sun rising every morning, as well as late in the afternoon from around 5PM onwards. They seem to prefer the taller trees, specifically Eucylptus species to roost in. They mostly spend their time in the higher canopy of those tall trees. I have yet to see any bird on the ground.

There are no fruit-bearing trees or shrubs of any sort in the neighbouring area that would make Koels stick around to feed on their fruit. However, during the day the males that are here are barely heard so it is more than likely they are feeding somewhere else outside their own territories. This is more than likely because they cannot tree hop, instead they have to travel great open distances to find food.

There have been no known instances of Pacific Koels breeding in the south-western part of Tenterfield. I have not heard any young Pacific Koels nor seen any foster parents with a young Koel offspring.

Pacific Koels do not seem to mind humans being around as long as humans don't get too close to them. These birds exhibit "no fear" of humans in the south-western part of Tenterfield. They are still relatively shy birds though. These birds are not "opportunist feeders" meaning they will not be attracted to any food you may put out for them or for other birds, not even fresh fruit.


Updated: Saturday, 14 July 2012
The local Pacific Koel male has not been heard in the area for several weeks. No other Pacific Koels have been heard in the area since then.


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