1475. Eudynamis scolopaeeus scolopaceus

(1475) Eudynamis scolopaceus scolopaceus (Linn.).
Eudynamis scolopaceus scolopaceus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iv, p. 172.
The Koel, or “the curse of the sick man in India,” as it has been called, is found all over India and Ceylon, but is rare in Sind and the Punjab and absent from the North-West Provinces. In Assam its place is taken by the Burmese form.
There is no European one would imagine in India who does not know that this, unfortunately, very common bird lays its eggs in the nests of Crows, generally of the common House-Crow, but often also in that of the Jungle-Crow. Wherever the Crows breed, in the heart of great cities, in villages and cultivated tracts, or in country more remote, there will the Koel also be found in numbers only less numerous than the birds which they cuckold.
Koels certainly have no breeding territory in the usual sense of the word. More than one egg of this Cuckoo is repeatedly found in the same nest. I have myself seen six or seven several times, while as many as thirteen have been recorded. These show quite clearly, by size, shape or tint, that two or three and, in one case, four birds have laid in the same nest in addition to the rightful owner.
The eggs are not unlike Crows’ eggs, having a pale stone, pale- greenish-yellow, or yellowish-grey ground, profusely marked all over with blotches, freckles, specks and spots of reddish-brown, but giving the prevailing impression of greenish eggs just as those of the Crows appear to be. In shape they are broad ovals, shorter and rounder in comparison with those of the Grows and considerably smaller.
One hundred eggs average 31.0 x 23.6 mm.
The breeding season Varies considerably, generally in accord with that of the Crows they cuckold. Over most of India late May, June and early July form the main breeding season ; in Bengal June and July. In Dacca, Mymensingh etc. in Eastern Bengal the Cuckoos have two seasons’ laying, first in the nests of the Jungle Crow in December and January, and then in the end of May when the House-Crows start breeding, the Cuckoos also start again.
In spite of this Cuckoo being so exceedingly common, much yet remains to be learned about its habits. It is still doubtful whether the Koel usually removes an egg of the foster parent when depositing her own in the nest. There is much conflicting evidence on this point but little definite proof one way or the other. Many people have seen young Koels being fed by Crows, yet Hume says that he himself has many times seen adult female Koels feeding young ones of their own species.
Finally it is not known to what extent, if at all, young Koels eject the eggs or young of their foster parents, or the young light it out among themselves when there is more than one hatched in a nest.
Crows breed in almost every garden in India ; their nests are often so placed that they can be closely watched in comfort from window or verandah ; Koels lay their eggs in these nests, yet we do not know half as much as we ought about these birds.
In Dibrugarh Crows built in an avenue 100 yards from my house and in Dacca within a few yards of my verandah. All I discovered was that the Koel, at all events sometimes, lays its egg direct into the Crow’s nest. Also from watching certain Crows’ nests I knew that where one day there have been so many Crows’ eggs, the same day later there has been one Crow's egg less and one Koel's egg more, though this was not always the case. I have never seen a young Koel eject either egg or young Crow or brother or sister Koel from the nest. On the other hand, I have seen Koels and young Crows in the same nest and within a few days but one young Koel was left in it. Sometimes also I have seen the remains of eggs and young birds under Crows’ nests from which they have evidently been thrown out.
From personal observation also I have been able to ascertain that though Koels may have morals, they are shockingly bad ones. Finally, in over thirty years’ residence in India I never saw young Koels being fed by females of their own species.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1475. Eudynamis scolopaeeus scolopaceus
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Indian Koel
Eudynamys scolopaceus scolopaceus
Vol. 3

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