Asian (western) koel

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The Asian western koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) belongs to the family of cuckoos, roadrunners, koels and malkohas, Cuculidae.

The western Asian koel species are distributed in Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, Maldives, Oman and southeast China. These common koel species are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of crows and other hosts. These koels are polytypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Asian Western Koel Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Asian (western) koel - Overview

  • Scientific name: Eudynamys scolopaceus
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Cuculus scolopaceus Linnaeus, 1758, Eudynamis honorata, Eudynamys scolopacea
  • Family: Cuculidae › Cuculiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Asian western koel, Chinese: 噪鹃, French: Coucou koël, German: Indischer Koel, Spanish: Koel occidental, Russian: Коель, Japanese: オニカッコウ, Malay: Burung Sewah Tahu
  • Other names: western Koel, Common Koel
  • Distribution: Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, Maldives, Oman, southeast China
  • Diet and feeding habits: fruits, berries, figs
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Appearance, physical description and identification

The western Asian koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) is a large, cuckoo, measuring 40 to 45 cm in length. The female is slightly larger than the male and weighs 230 grams. The male weighs 130 to 190 grams.

The male Asian western koel has glossy bluish black plumage. The female is brownish with heavy pale buff and white streaking allover. The underside is whitish with heavy stripping. The juveniles initially appear like the female and have blackish bill.

The irises are dark red. The legs and feet are shiny gray. The bill is pale creamy green. These species are very vocal, specially during breeding season. The Asian western koel male call is a loud, repeated "koo-Ooo" sound. The female makes a shrill "kik-kik-kik" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Asian western koel - Eudynamys scolopaceus
1.Birds of India - Image of Asian western koel - Eudynamys scolopaceus by Challiyil Eswaramangalath Pavithran Vipin

Birds of India - Photo of Asian western koel - Eudynamys scolopaceus
2.Indian birds - Picture of Asian western koel - Eudynamys scolopaceus by N. A. Naseer

Indian birds - Image of Asian western koel - Eudynamys scolopaceus
Birds of India - Photo of Asian western koel - Eudynamys scolopaceus by Bhaskaranaidu

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Asian western koel species are distributed in Oman, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines and southeast China.

Vagrant Asian western koels are found in Yemen, United Arab Emirates and Iran.

In India, these Asian koel species are distributed in all the states. Breeding populations are distributed in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Wintering populations are found in Andaman and nicobar Islands.

The western Asian koel nominate subspecies E. s. scolopaceus is distributed Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Laccadives and Maldives. The subspecies E. s. harterti is distributed in Hainan (China).

The Asian western koel subspecies E. s. chinensis is distributed in southern China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This subspecies winters in Borneo. The subspecies E. s. simalurensis is distributed in Simeulue and outlying islands (Indonesia).

The western Asian koel subspecies E. s. mindanensis is distributed in Philippines and Talaud Islands and Sangihe Islands of Indonesia. The subspecies E. s. frater is distributed in extreme north Philippines.

The Asian western koel subspecies E. s. malayanus is distributed in eastern India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore Indonesia (Sumatra, Borneo, Java and Lesser Sundas). This species winters Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Ecosystem and habitat

These western Asian koel species have medium forest dependence. These species normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 1500 meters.

The artificial ecosystems of these Asian western koel species include orchards, plantations, rural gardens and urban parks and avenue trees.

The natural ecosystems of these Asian western koel species include subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests, coastal swamp forests, subtropical and tropical moist shrublands, riverside scrub woodlands and subtropical and tropical dry shrublands.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of the adult Asian western koel consists mainly of fruits. Wild fruits, orchard fruits, figs and berries are their primary food.

The nestlings of these western Asian koel species are fed by the foster parents with insects and plant matter. The juveniles feed on a variety of insects, caterpillars, eggs and small vertebrates. The adults are observed to defend the fruiting trees from other frugivorous birds.

Reproduction and breeding habits

These Asian western koels are brood parasites, laying eggs in the nest of other birds and rely on the host to raise their young. The breeding season coincides with breeding season of the local host species.

The breeding season of these Asian koels is from March to August in India and Pakistan. The laying season is from April to August in Sri Lanka. The breeding season is from February to April in Malaysia.

The long-tailed shrikes (Lanius schach), common house crows (Corvus splendens) and common Mynas (Acridotheres tristis) are the common host species of the Asian western koel in the Indian continent. The eggs of these Asian species hatch one or two days before the host eggs.

Migration and movement patterns

The Asian koel species are partially migratory birds.

The breeding western koel populations in Pakistan, northwest India and southeast China are migratory, moving southwards for wintering. The populations in the rest of the range are resident.

Post breeding, the juvenile western koels may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Asian koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is reported to be stable.

Throughout its range this species is reported to be common and is locally less common in Indonesia. The generation length is 4.2 years. Its distribution size is about 34,200,000

Habitat degradation and hunting are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these species.

IUCN and CITES status

The western koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for Asian western koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Eudynamys scolopaceus
Species:E. scolopaceus
Binomial name:Eudynamys scolopaceus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
These Asian koel species (Eudynamys scolopaceus) are closely related to Pacific koel (Eudynamys orientalis).

The seven recognized subspecies of the western koel are: E. s. scolopaceus (Linnaeus, 1758), E. s. chinensis Cabanis & Heine, 1863, E. s. harterti Ingram, 1912, E. s. malayanus Cabanis & Heine, 1863, E. s. simalurensis Junge, 1936, E. s. frater McGregor, 1904 and E. s. mindanensis (Linnaeus, 1766).
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Challiyil Eswaramangalath Pavithran Vipin | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 7/22/17
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: N. A. Naseer | License: CC BY-SA 2.5 IN
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Bhaskaranaidu | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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