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Is this the most annoying sound of spring?

Whilst some people find the call a soothing reminder that spring has arrived, most people find the loud, building, and incessant, "wurro-wurro" call of the male of Hong Kong's large Cuckoo, the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus), hard to take.

Picture credits thanks to Andrew Hardacre. The male Koel above, the female below.

The Asian koel is a large, long-tailed, cuckoo (Eudynamys scolopaceus).

This large black bird has distinctive red eyes and likes to start calling from from very early, and then continues throughout the day!!

The Asian koel - like all cuckoos - is a brood parasite, and lays its single egg in the nests of a variety of birds.

Fascinating facts:

- Their timing is impeccable, with the eggs being laid within days of the hosts', and the chicks hatching normally just days before the host chicks.

- Unlike most cuckoos the the young koels do not evict the eggs or kill the host chicks. - Cuckoos are named after the onomatopoeic sound which they produce: 'cuck-oo, cuck-oo'. Even though the whole family is named by this unique sound, only one cuckoo species (The Common cuckoo) is able to produce this sound. - One local resident couple call this "the orgasm bird".

- The good news is that these calls only continue for around a month or two. Each species returns on more on less the same date every year and to the same location. - So, the bad news? if you’ve got one this year, you’re likely to have one next year, and the year after.

NB: this is NOT the "brain-fever" bird which is much rarer, and less likely to be near residential locations, preferring remoter hillsides; the common/great hawk cuckoo, named by Kipling in one of his poems, which also refers to its "annoying" call that disturbs the sleep and rest of so many.

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