the wake-up bird

wake up bird

Several weeks ago, I blogged about the calls of the wake-up bird. It has plagued me since. Not the calls per se, which I enjoy for the way they enter the HDB soundscape of bus stops, chittering mynas, chattering children and the incessant varied noises from the nearby taoist temple. But rather just identifying the bird itself.

Not satisfied with mystery, I've since been searching online recordings of bird calls. But with no real clues, it got as desperate as googling "whoo-ooo bird call". At one point, we even thought it could be the frantic call of the monkey that has wandered from the pierce reservoir and spotted hanging around our street.

But a monkey it is not.

Last afternoon, J finally spotted the creature perched on the top of a tall tree, issuing its loud "woo-ooo" uncharacteristically at noon. Ah, it was a large black bird with a distinctive tail and a beak that did not look like that of a crow's . That helped narrow down the options. From descriptions and photographs in the "Guide to the Common Birds of Singapore", it could either be a house crow, possibly the nightjar or a bulbul, or the greater coucal. The greater coucal is from the cuckoo family. And it seemed to make sense that it was some kind of a cuckoo bird. Unfortunately, after 2 hours of online searching, none of it sounded like our wake-up bird.

Just when I was about to abandon the search, one of the random references from "greater coucal" on youtube read "Asian Koel". It was something about the sound of that word "Koel". I clicked - and heard that familiar call. Ah. The wake-up bird.

Video by Diana57 in Singapore of a male koel calling out for a mate.

Sound of a female koel, by tankavideo

Avianweb.com's page on the Asian koel identifies it as a bird in the cuckoo family. It is also known as the "Rainbird" in Australia, while its name "koel" means "nightingale" in India. In Toa Payoh, I think the koel shall remain known as the wake-up bird.

p/s. Here's a video of a mating dance between two koels. The male is black and the female is the brown and white-spotted.

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