Koel confrontation

posted in: Intraspecific | 0

At around 6.30 pm on 10th March 2007 I heard the calling of the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) coming from my garden. Going out to check, I located a pair of male birds perching on a branch of my terap (Artocarpus odoratissimus) tree. They were duetting. At first they were just sitting peacefully, preening and calling intermittently. Then they turned and faced each other, moving closer.

One bird would lower his head to the level of the branch he was perching on and immediately raise it. This would elicit a similar response from the other bird. At times the other bird would have his head below the branch. This would go for a few times before one of them would give out a loud “kwok-kwok-kwok


The charade went on for more than half an hour with intermittent loud cries before the birds became gently aggressive (above). One or the other would lunge forward taking the other by surprise to nearly displacing him from the branch. Soon the aggression became violent as one bird attacked the other with wings flapping, tail feathers fanned out and bill agape (below). Under such an attack the other bird naturally retreated and soon both were out of their perch.

By 7.00 pm it was getting dark and the birds became more and more aggressive. They were chasing each other, as evidenced from the loud flapping of their wings and sounds of their jumping from branch to branch, accompanied by loud cries. The aggression appeared to be simply a put-on, limited to mere threats as there were no actual bodily contacts.

About an hour after the birds arrived, when it was actually dark, they suddenly flew off noisily to probably confront each other elsewhere. Or maybe to roost?

Was this a confrontation by two male birds to establish their pecking order? Was it mere play?

An earlier post on a pair of male koels duetting did not end in aggression.
YC Wee
March 2007

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