Waiting and Wondering
It’s already nearing the end of September and they are late, at least where I live. I hadn’t realised how much their arrival meant to me but with each passing day, that becomes clearer. And with the silence, just a bit of anxiety.
I’m talking about eastern koels, the large mysterious cuckoo known mainly by their endlessly repetitive “oo-oo” call. They are, or should be, wending their way down the eastern seaboard of Australia, these days making it all the way to Melbourne, having ‘over wintered’ in the warm tropical rainforests of south-east Asian islands. It’s a journey and route they share with that living pterodactyl, the channel-billed cuckoo, whose shockingly raucous screech has already been heard throughout the land. Many a crow or currawong will be inadvertently raising a gigantic foster-chick this breeding season in one of nature’s most astonishing acts of sabotage.
For the koels, their victims are usually magpie-larks and figbirds. But so far, that strident signal given by a well-hidden male to females, indicating the location of potential nests, has not been heard. I’m sure they will turn up, but their silence adds just another sliver of uncertainty to an already unsettled year.
Author bio: Darryl is an urban ecologist interested in all aspects of the ways that people perceive and interact with nature.