Wattle Bird feeding Juvenile Koel

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hark777's picture
Wattle Bird feeding Juvenile Koel

Hi, I'm new here so nice to meet you all :)

I've just taken a photo of a Baby Koel being fed by a Wattle bird. I saw this happen the other day & thought perhaps it was a rather large Juvenile Wattle bird being fed, but today i saw it happen again & indeed it was a Koel being nursed by someone other than its mum!

The Koel looks like it might be lost as it is always crying but it appears to be well looked after by its surrogate mother. Is this common? Attatched is a photo.

Again, nice to meet you.

ScottTas's picture

Thanks for sharing this great photo. I've never seen a cuckoo being fed by a surrogate mother, but it's how they all come to be... so must be pretty common! I doubt the baby Koel is lost, I think it's more likely the constant "feed me, feed me" call :)

Thanks again for sharing,



timmo's picture

Hi there,

Just to add to what Scott had to say (and I hope I'm not stating the obvious here), but koels are a type of cuckoo. One of the things that is common behaviour to all(?) cuckoos is that they don't raise their own young, but instead find the nest of their usual host species, often push out 1 or more of the original eggs and replace it with their own. Often the cuckoo eggs are very similar to that of the host species, and baby cuckoos may hatch earlier and be larger than the other chicks so that they out-compete for food.

The baby cuckoo when it hatches is then raised by the surrogate parents as one of their own, exactly as you are seeing in your photo.

So in answer to your question, yes this is common for cuckoo chicks, but it would be rather less common for other birds.

Hope that helps.


hark777's picture

At the time of posting this I had no idea that it was anything but good hearted animal philanthropy. I have since done my wiki research I found out a little about the parasitic cuckoo's & feel a little less warmed by the behaviour :)

Interesting to see though. Thanks very much for your comment!


Araminta's picture

This is very interesting, I have just discussed this topic with my son. We tend to put "human sentiments" on birds and all animals. The animal world does not operate like this. It's all about survival, eat and get eaten, and the strongest will win.

The only thing I find interesting about this, is that most of the time the Cuckoos put their eggs into even smaller birds nests. Then you see a little wren work a lot harder to feed the giant baby.

It's a tuff world out there for birds. The more important it is to not make it harder for them to survive, by "us" destroying their habitat.


Woko's picture

My sentiments (not imposed on the birds, I hope) exactly, Araminta.

Trish Russell's picture

Do you know how long mum has to support the interloper - does she have to keep it up until iy migrates or how does she get rid of it?

Woko's picture

Without any support from research, I'd guess until the youngster becomes independent. Post #1 shows that the Red Wattle Bird is still feeding the "interloper" after the latter has left the nest. What have other Birds in Backyarders observed?

Sue Lindsay's picture

Hi there - I just joined having found the answer to my question on this forum... I have the same situation happening outside my window. After hearing this unusual squawk for the last day I though perhaps a bird was stuck in the neighbours down pipe... it's not a very pleasant (and almost constant) cry.  Well I found what looks like a fairly mature Koel chick being fed by two wattle birds.  They are running themselves ragged and the Koel is quite aggressive when they arrive with an offering.  Fascinating to watch - I'm pleased to know what I'm looking at now - thanks.

gphe's picture

The original was posted a long time ago - but you are not alone - we have had Red Wattlebirds feeding a Koel as well.

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