Be alert … and a little alarmed

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!


Male Eastern Koel, Wyndham Street Newstead, 29th December 2016

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!

15 responses to “Be alert … and a little alarmed

  1. Demented is the correct term, irritating, earsplitting, maddening – can never forget those calls from humid Sydney’s leafy northern suburbs, I used to think shrill cicadas were the ‘sound of summer’ now the Eastern Koel down in Newstead. How long before the dreaded fruit fly arrives here too?

  2. We had one calling here at Red Hill yesterday for ages – amazing. We’re on the edge of a State forest but never before had a Koel . Not calling this morning -yet. I’d heard and seen one in Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens a couple of years ago, but the Mornington Peninsula is even more surprising.

    • Hi Jane – happy NY to you and family … it seems they are spreading like wildfire! One even made it to Adelaide apparently.
      All the best, geoff

  3. Ah ha! I am up in NSW (south coast) nd have been hearing an unusual call that I was guessing a cuckoo … I reckon this is it …. thanks Geoff

  4. We have heard one in Maldon regularly over the last few summers..

  5. Have had one calling all morning in Campbells Creek near the pub!
    Was driving me mad in the mornings!

    • Hi Campbell – I’d heard of a number in Castlemaine but first note from Campbell’s Ck … well done … they reckon fleeting visits from Koels are best!
      Cheers, geoff

  6. A koel has visited my part of Bendigo each summer for at least three years now so its call is quite familiar. However I’ve seldom seen it and on the few occasions I have it’s been at twilight so all I’ve been able to photograph has been an indistinct black blob.
    Thank you for these photographs and for all the delightful photos you’ve shared over 2016. Best wishes for 2017. I look forward to more of your spectacular photography.

    • Thanks Arbi – I hope I get a chance to capture some better shots too … heard it again this morning at a distance.
      Cheers, geoff

  7. Hi Geoff I saw a bird in my garden that I have never seen before just this week . Brown with Barring on the chest and a short stout marginally downcurved beak, about magpie size… so I wonder. Maybe a female but haven’t heard any calling so maybe not!
    Happy new year to all of yours and thankyou for the continued delightful photos. Cheers jo

    • Hi Jo – the only other option I think would be a young or female Satin Bowerbird? … all the best to you, Rob and family for 2017.
      Cheers, geoff

  8. I’ve two female koels who accept food from my hand. The older one has been doing so for nearly four years, so she’s managed to find her way back to my house in suburbia three times after migration. Which is pretty amazing. There’re several native figs nearby so I see a lot of koels and other fruit eaters.

  9. Well done for getting pics of your first koel visitor! Living in northern Sydney we have them in our garden all summer and have done for years, but it was only recently that I managed to get some decent photos. I think I was able to get some good shots (on my blog a month or two ago) because the two females were distracted by a ring-ding battle – possibly over access to the male! Apparently not as uncommon a bird behaviour as you might think. I’m happy they had the tiff as I have been after decent piccies for ages – very “cryptic” birds and apparently not well studied because of their inconveniently elusive habits, despite the din!

  10. Hi Geoff. David Salt forwarded this which is timely, as I heard my first Koel in Melbourne (Altona) while visiting family over Xmas! I love its incessant quirky call. To me, it signals the arrival of summer in Canberra – although a local politician in the ACT added getting rid of the Koel to her election promises! Cheers, Phil

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