Backyard Buddies
Eastern Koel

Photo: Lance

Eastern Koel

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The Eastern Koel is a common buddy in many backyards in cities and towns across eastern and northern Australia.

Traditionally inhabiting woodlands and rainforests, they're also comfortable in urban places, particularly where there are tall trees to hide in and lots of fruiting plants.

Koels are brood parasites which means they are a type of cuckoo who lets other birds raise their young for them. The female Koel will lay an egg in the nest of one of her favourite host birds (Red Wattlebird, friarbirds, or Magpie Larks). The baby cuckoo will out-compete for food and remove its competing host-siblings from the nest. The host parents won’t realise what’s going on and will continue to feed the fast-growing cuckoo chick.

The female koel can time her own egg to be ready when her chosen host bird is ready to lay their eggs. This reduces the chances that the other bird will be suspicious of a strange egg appearing.

This may sound cruel but it’s just a natural part of bird behaviour and helps control population numbers of these other dominating species.

You can make your neighbourhood friendlier for Eastern Koels

Koel numbers are increasing in our cities as a result of more fruiting trees in urban habitats and also because of the increase in their host species who love all the nectar flowers in our gardens. More Koels may mean more noisy dawn calls.

If their calls are disturbing your sleep, you may want to think about making your garden less appealing to Koels and their hosts. You can do this by building up an understory for small birds and removing fruiting weeds and covering fruit trees in wildlife-friendly netting.

Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies— to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The Eastern Koel is a backyard buddy.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like the Eastern Koels, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes.

So you can be a backyard buddy.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.

Step one is to find out what Eastern Koels do and do not like.

Eastern Koels love:

Eating fruit – particularly from ornamental backyard fruit trees.

Team work – the male and female work together so the female can sneak into another bird’s nest to lay her egg.

Travelling – from Papua New Guinea to Australia in September and then back again in March.

But they don’t like:

Cold weather – which is why they fly back north for the winter.

Too much work – so they choose other birds to do the child raising for them. However, the female Koel will sometimes stick around to help feed her growing baby.

Be a buddy to the Eastern Koel

Try to:


Don't be surprised if:

Find out more about your buddies

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