NATURAL HABITAT: The Pacific koel has an average size of 42cm.
NATURAL HABITAT: The Pacific koel has an average size of 42cm. Greg Thomas

Heard ... but rarely seen

PACIFIC koels are also called the common or eastern koel and are members of the cuckoo family.

They are spring migrants, arriving in northern and eastern Australia each year in about early October to breed.

They leave their breeding area in about March to return to their winter homes in far northern Australia, New Guinea and nearby islands.

Their natural habitats are tall forests and dense woodlands but they have become very common in suburban areas.

This may be because of an increase in available food, such as ornamental palms and fruiting shrubs, trees and weeds.

Another factor in this increase is probably a similar proliferation in some of their host birds.

Koels feed almost entirely in the canopy of trees and eat a variety of fruits, especially figs.

Adults are very shy and difficult to see. We usually become aware of them because of their mating calls.

This piercing call is part of our spring, the male advertising its presence by a loud ascending 'koo-el', which is answered by the female's repetitive 'keek-keek-keek-keek'.

The photo is of a male. Females, which are the same size as males, have a mottled brown back and a lighter mottled breast and barred tail.

Like most cuckoos, koels are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other bird species, common hosts being friarbirds, magpie-larks and figbirds.

A single egg is laid in the host's nest and once hatched the chick forces the other eggs and hatchlings out of the nest.

The significantly smaller parents desperately search for sufficient food to satisfy the young koel, which will grow to nearly twice their size.



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