Where have all the cuckoos gone?
One may wonder why the koha/cuckoo (the koel), which is symbolic with
the Sinhala and Hindu New Year festive season is so 'silent' these days.
Where have all these birds with a mellifluous call gone? Is there a
decline in the number of koels in Sri Lanka?
According to Field Ornithologist Deepal Warakagoda, the number of
koels in the country has increased but there is a change in their
breeding season due to fewer crows nests for them to lay eggs. He said
that the number of crows had also increased but the breeding season had
been delayed due to the recent long spell of dry weather, which had
compelled crows to delay building their nests.
Koels sing during their breeding season to attract mates during
March, April and June.
They repeat their long songs also to establish their territories and
also to expel other male koels coming into their territories.
"Known as the Asian Koel the, koha is a resident bird in Sri Lanka.
The fewer number of nests for crows has brought about changes in the
Koels' breeding patterns. Belonging to the 'parasitic' birds category,
which are free of parental activities to raise the young koels, they
also delay their breeding season due to lack of crows nests in cities",
he added. Warakagoda said that the crows, which have a sixth sense of
future weather conditions had delayed the breeding season due to
deprivation of food and prevailing weather conditions.
"Crows may commence building nests to start the breeding season next
Koels may also start their breeding season next month and will sing
during the Vesak season", he said.
According to Warakagoda, the rapid increase in the number of crows in
major towns including the Colombo city was a sign of pollution,
including garbage dumps.
This will create an imbalance in nature as the crows destroy other
birds nests, attack and kill them.