About Asian Koels
The Asian koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) is a large cuckoo bird. They are found in China, South Asia and Southeast Asia. In Singapore, the Asian koels can be found in secondary forests, parks, and low-density urban areas, feeding mainly on fruits and berries.
This species is sexually dimorphic, with the males looking very different from the females. The males sport a glossy blue-black plumage, crimson irises, long tail, pale green beak, and grey legs and feet while the females have dark brown upperparts and light brown underparts, with their body heavily spotted and streaked in white and rufous.
The Asian koels are more often heard than seen, especially from October to March during their breeding season. The koels make a variety of calls, including the distinctively loud, repetitive, high-pitched ‘ku-oo’ mating calls from dawn, and can sometimes be heard till night. (Play the video below to hear their call!)
Asian koels are brood parasites that lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, which will provide parental care until the young koel is ready to fly. In Singapore, the host is predominantly the house crow (Corvus splendens). As a brood parasite, the Asian koel deposits their eggs in the unattended nest of a house crow, sometimes removing one of the host’s eggs in the process. The koel chick hatches first and may force the host’s eggs or chicks out of the nest. Therefore, koel brood parasitism reduces the crow’s reproduction success and keeps their population in check.
What should I do if I am affected by the Asian koels?
The Asian koel is a protected species under the Wildlife Act and serves important ecological functions in our urban ecosystem. There are many who enjoy the presence of Asian koels and other wildlife in our environment, even though there are Singaporeans who have been inconvenienced by calls of the Asian koel.
NParks is working with NEA and premise managements to prune trees, and remove crows’ nests and food sources to discourage Asian koels from roosting near residential areas.
If you require any assistance, you can contact NParks through their online feedback form. Alternatively, you can approach your town council or condominium management for assistance.