The male and female eastern koel. Photo: Contributed.
The male and female eastern koel. Photo: Contributed.

You know summer is coming when you start to hear this sound

Each spring the eastern koel migrates from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to breed in Australia.

They travel as far down the coast as Nowra in New South Wales.

Often referred to as the 'stormbird' because its monotonously repeated ''koo-el' is associated with the arrival of rain although there is no evidence to support this. If only it were true!

Male and female are very different.

The male is jet black with a bright red eye while the female has brown upperparts, heavily spotted with white, and a black crown on the head.

The underparts are generally buff-cream with numerous fine black bars and the tail is barred.

It is a member of the cuckoo family and lays its eggs in other birds nests with target species such as the noisy friarbird, magpie lark and pied currawong.

A single egg is laid in the host's nest and once hatched the chick forces the other eggs and hatchlings out of the nest.

It can then get all of the food that is delivered to the nest.

When the chick leaves the nest it roosts in the outer branches of a tree, cheeping incessantly while the significantly smaller parents desperately search for sufficient food to satisfy the nagging youngster.

This is a full-time job, as the young koel will grow to nearly twice their size.

Eventually, it migrates northwards around March/April, usually later than the adults, to return as a breeding bird the following spring.

BirdLife Capricornia has been keeping a record of the time of arrival which is about a month earlier than it was in 2005.

They are common around suburban areas although a bit shy so you are more likely to hear them than see them..

Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia. Contact him with your bird questions at