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DateLine Sunday, 8 April 2007





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

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 month.

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.

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