Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Coucal Chronicle—1

A pair of "Southern" Coucals nesting in my garden has been having it tough.

First, the nest, built atop a coconut tree, was dropped to the ground by a coconut picker; he'd not realised that it was a nest. There were some extenuating citrcumstances for this. The nest was held together by strips of coconut leaves in the outer side. It is normal for coconut pickers to clear area around the coconuts, of dead leaves and things first, before finding the right ones to pick. With its coconut leafy disguise, the nest had been hard to detect for our fellow. (I didn't know that there was such a nest until this accident happened.)

On the grounded nest, were three little devils like this.

One was already dead, probably as a result of the impact of the fall.
I got the coconut picker to put the nest back at its original spot with the two remaining chicks. However, this operation did not work out well as planned; the heavy rains later during the day was one of the reasons.

And that was the end of that. 

A few days after this, I found the coucals taking nesting material to a thicket near one of the ponds. Leaf by leaf, they finished the nest with a lot of hard work. I was happy to see them moving on after the tragedy. Sadly, this happiness was short lived, as a Spectacled Cobra predated their eggs.

Startled by the mobbing parent birds, the cobra had dropped itself down to make an escape, only to find a water hazzard.

It was quite graceful on water, yet the pond's wall was too steep for it to make an escape. So I had to fish it out.

And then, it was time for some mug shots!

The full view.

See how it has got a bulge on the unraised part? That would be the coucal eggs in its belly.

By the way, here's why it earns the "spectacled" part of its name.

And that was the end of that nesting episode.  

Undaunted, the coucals used this nest again to raise another brood. Sadly, this too was short-lived as the nestlings were predated by Jungle Crows—which too appeared to be having hungry chicks from the looks of things.

Now the coucals are putting together a new nest—this time in a coffee thicket—where a pair of Indian Scops Owls roosted sometime ago.

I hope the nesting woes of the coucals will be over this time.


Me-shak said...

It's sad the little devils had to go through all of that. Seriously Amilla, where do you live? Like, ahh, umm, ahh, Forrest? :P What have you not got over there? :D And I love the picture of the cobra standing up. Did you actually touch it, to take it out of the pond?*curious face* :D Very informative post and lovely pictures, as all ways. Looking forward for more!


tai haku said...

Cor blimey. That is a proper snake. Awesome stuff. I'd gladly sacrifice a few of my garden birds to have Naja around.

Kirigalpoththa said...

The story says that they eggs in crow's nest. I think they should do that to avoid this kind of tragedies.

magerata said...

Wow, that was a sad story. Again I did not know cobras could climb trees. Then again what wonderful stories you tell. THX

Stu said...

Woah, that snake shot is great........

That's the thing about living in the tropics. Nice weather, loads of great birds but then you get nasty venomous things everywhere.....

santhoshi said...

oh my god! how did u take that photo? u r so very brave!

Kirigalpoththa said...

This is eti kukula and not koha (koel) right? my comment should be on koel. Anyways coucals should learn something from the koel :D

rainfield61 said...

I shall run away at my maximum possible speed, otherwise, my legs will shiver, and my body, and ...

Gallicissa said...

1. It's really been a rough period for them.
2. I am not fortunate to live in a forest; it's only a well wooded garden. :)
3. I do not have Elephant, Sloth Bear, Leopard and the likes. :P
4. I used a "tool" to fish the Cobra out of the pond.
5. Thank you, as always, for your very lively comments!

Haha...I have at least two cobras in my yard. Nice to learn that you've been to SL!

Coucals, unlike cuckoos, build their own nests.

They do scale trees; they prefer them to burrows during rainy weather for obvious reasons. Thank you!

That's an interesting assessment.

Thank you! OMG, I blush. :)
A: With an endorphin rush. ;)

Sounds like you are not a big fan of snakes!

Amila Kanchana said...

Tragic story! Never seen juvenile Coucals before,yeah they kinda look devilish. :-) That "Nai Hami" is magnificent!

flowergirl said...

Gosh! And may we know what the "tool" you used is?!

And how do you ensure that you dont go stomping on the cobra in your garden?!

This coucal pair seems to have attracted bad karma.

Phil said...

So you just "fished it out". That's pretty cool but I bet it was trickier than that? Great pictures again.

Gallicissa said...

Thanks. Yes, such is nature.

1. I used a pole.

2. By being more aware, I guess.

When you breach its comfort zone, the cobra would often hiss and warn you. This is why I do not listen to my iPod when walking in my garden. ;)

When I "explore" my yard, I wear gum boots; at night, I carry a flash light. On other occassions, I just pay more attention.

3. Bad karma? Right!

Viru was stood out again; we should dismiss him cheaply on Saturday to win the match. I am tempted to go to Dambulla on Sat.

@ Phil,

Actually there was no drama in fishing it out; hence the reason I didn't dramatize that incident! (I have experience in dealing with venomous snakes.)

flowergirl said...

See Phil, how coll he is about fishing out venomous snakes??!!

Yeah to gum boots!

Well, dismissing Viru early just removes the fizz from the soda, i'm sorry. So pl dont wish for it!!

Gallicissa said...


I meant to say Viru stood out again. Pardon my poor English.

Viru can take the game away from his opponents single handedly. So I am not going to be convinced of that utopian notion, flowergirl. :)

And I think in a finals there should be no geopolitical love; we should go for the jagular.

I'd love to see more agro from both sides.

Dee said...


Gallicissa said...

Thanks, Dee!

Mark Young said...

G'day Amila, Excellent blog you have here, love the images.

Gallicissa said...

Thanks! Great to hear from you!

Beej said...

Wow! What a story!

vrajesh said...

nice to read..

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