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Asian Koel

Michael Palin presents the Asian koel's arrival to an Indian orchard.

Michael Palin presents the Asian koel's arrival to an Indian orchard. This long-tailed glossy blue-black bird, is a well-known British harbinger of spring, and like its British counterpart, it is a cuckoo.

The koel's plaintive call is heard from late March until July around villages and in wooded countryside from Pakistan east to Indonesia and southern China. In India, it symbolises the birth of a new season, the flowering of fruit-trees, the bloom of romance and all that's good about spring. The koel's song can be heard in many Bollywood movies and has inspired poems and folk songs; it's even rumoured to help mangoes ripen faster.

This almost universal feel-good factor doesn't extend to its victims, because the koel is after all a cuckoo, and lays its eggs in other birds' nests. Asian Koels are parasitic on a wide range of birds, but in India especially, on House Crows and Jungle Crows.

Producer Andrew Dawes.

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2 minutes

Last on

Wed 23 May 2018 05:58

Asian/Western/Common Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus)

Webpage image courtesy of Hanne and Jens Eriksen /

NPL Ref 01212812 © Hanne and Jens Eriksen /

Recording of Asian koel by Arnoud B van den Berg / Ref: ML 70213

This programme contains a wildtrack recording of the Asian koel kindly provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; recorded by Arnoud B va denBerg on 19 Mar 1989, West of Ko Libong, Trang, Thailand.


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