Not long after arriving home this evening I heard an unusual call from below our front yard.
I puzzled over it momentarily and then the memory bank kicked in … it was an Eastern Koel!
This is the first time I’ve recorded this fascinating species in Newstead (the list now sits at 219), but I’ve seen it regularly on visits to northern Australia and its maddening call is imprinted in my mind. In recent years it has started arriving in good numbers over summer throughout Victoria, progressively being seen further west and even into South Australia. Ten years ago it was rare in Melbourne but is now regularly observed in Bendigo and Castlemaine, and a number of other locations in central Victoria. I’ve been waiting for it to turn up for a while now!
The Eastern Koel is a cuckoo, laying a single egg in the nest of a friarbird, wattlebird, miner or oriole. This one is a sub-adult male – shiny metallic black above with traces of barring on the underparts and a blood-red eye. The female is quite different – pale barred underparts and spotted brown above.
The male is more vocal – Pizzey describes two of its calls as a brisk, rising ‘quoy-quoy-quoy-quoy’ and a rising, demented ‘weir-weir-weir-weir’. A new species is always welcome, however the Eastern Koel is renowned for calling without pause from the wee, small hours.
A few locals may need earplugs over coming weeks!