Friday, November 6, 2009

Koel is to sing its song here!

A bird falls down from the roof of the building onto its floor. It does not fly or run away. But simply sits down as if it is brooding with fluffed up feathers. This happened in the Physics
Laboratory of my college
in the year 1971! This white streaked bird is a chick of the Asian Koel (Cuckoo, Eudynamys scolopaceus, 'Kuil' in Tamil). At first I thought it to be a sick bird of prey. But later on I identified it as the female Asian cuckoo chick. All of us know the melodious call of cuckoo. Here in Tamil Nadu, women's good quality recital of songs are praised as that of cuckoo's call. But only the male cuckoos give such calls; females do not do so. Males are black with their eyes having red iris. Females have white streaks and stripes all over their body (called as 'Vari Kuil' in Tamil).

'Brood parasitism' of cuckoos in House crow's nest is well known to all. But I have seen it in Black Drongo's nest also, and I have heard the driven out cuckoo chick give a call like that of a crow's chick (not as that of a drongo's chick)! Laying egg in the nest after the host's first egg is laid shows the cunningness of this bird. The Nature also allows the cuckoo's chick to hatch out first before the host's chicks! The young cuckoos feed on caterpillars and insects. As they mature they begin to eat fruits. The guava fruits borne by my guava tree are equally pecked into an empty hood, as also squirrels bit the fruits. A peculiar thing about this bird is that it eats also fruits that have toxic contents!

The cuckoo is a wonder bird with its melodious calls, as also its companion at a distance giving out milder replying calls to it!

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