Asian Koel – social behaviour

posted in: Intraspecific | 0

“I was watching a male Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus malayanus) this morning. It was unusual as it was sitting quietly, high in a Melia azedarach (Persian lilac) tree early in the morning. Most of the Koels in my neighbourhood and city have been calling noisily. Another male joined it and I was immediately expecting a territorial dispute to take place, which I have seen often between males (lasting hours, up to 11 hours in one observation). Surprisingly they were ‘comfortable’ with each other. Very soon after a third male Koel joined the other two; again with no hostile or vocal interaction (below). As I continued to watch, the three birds left together, presumably to feed (too far for me to follow).

“In trying to understand this behaviour I consider some possibilities:

1. Could these be migratory Asian Koel? Although resident, with growing populations in my city, some populations are known to migrate. If on migration, perhaps the territorial instinct is dampened down as there is no breeding.

2. Could this be a family unit despite parasitic breeding? Observations support that certain cuckoo species parents care for young before and after they fledge. Asian Koel are also known to feed their young [see: Lorenzana & Sealy. 1998. Adult brood parasites feeding nestlings and fledglings of their own species: A review. J. Field Ornithol. 69 (3): 364–375]. I noticed that the male at the top of the tree was an adult; the other two had some tail moult, the bill looked a bit darker (in many views) and they had some brown feathers in the wing (Post 2 – composite of 3 birds). So could this be an adult with two sub-adults (the offspring)?

Composite of three birds.

“Appreciate opinions. More images of individual birds available on request.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
5th February 2019

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Secondary growth at fringe of city

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