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7 Fascinating Behaviors of the Dwarf Koel Bird

A bird enthusiast or a casual observer of nature would surely be thrilled to spot the unique Dwarf Koel or Microdynamis parva. This bird is not only visually appealing but also has some interesting biological traits that make it an exceptional species.

In this article, we will delve into its identification, plumages, and molts, to give readers an informative insight into understanding this fascinating bird.The Dwarf Koel is a relatively small bird known for its vibrant plumage and unique features. This species is commonly found in Southeast Asia and is a member of the cuckoo family.

The bird is brightly-colored with dark glossy feathers that blend beautifully with its striking red eyes. They have a unique call, which can be heard all around its habitat.

The Dwarf Koel is a bird that can captivate even the most uninterested person. With that said, let us dive straight into its identification.


Field Identification

The Dwarf Koel is fairly easy to identify. The bird is approximately 22-24 cm long and weighs around 85 – 100 grams.

Males are known to have a slightly darker coloration (black) than females, which are usually dark brown. The bird’s wings are pointed and the tail is relatively long and broad.

Its most distinctive feature is its blood-red eyes. The bird’s striking features make it easy to spot and recognize it in its natural habitat.

Similar Species

The Dwarf Koel has some similarities to other bird species within its habitat. However, some notable differences distinguish the bird from others.

The Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, for example, is slightly larger in size and has a longer tail than the Dwarf Koel. The Oriental Cuckoo, on the other hand, has a dark outer tail, a feature that the Dwarf Koel lacks.

While these differences may be subtle, knowing them helps in identifying the species.


Dwarf Koel has distinct juvenile and adult plumages. The juvenile bird is easy to tell apart from the adult, thanks to its brown overall color with white spots sequentially arranged on its feathers.

The young bird is also highly camouflaged with the environment, which serves as an adaptive coloration that conceals it from predators. As the bird matures, it acquires a beautiful adult plumage, which is dark and glossy.

The male Dwarf Koel has a black plumage that shimmers when in the sunlight. The female Dwarf Koel, on the other hand, has a dark brown overall color, which is less distinct as compared to the male.


Birds’ feathers undergo molt, ensuring that they remain in pristine condition throughout their lifetime. The Dwarf Koel undergoes a complete molt, which occurs annually during the non-breeding period.

During this period, the birds’ worn-out feathers are replaced with new strong and robust ones. The molt cycles differ between the adult and the immature birds.

The immature’s cycle may occur in stages while the adults tend to molt all at once.


The Dwarf Koel, with its colorful plumage, striking red eyes, and unique call, is a fascinating species to observe in its natural habitat. Its distinct characteristics are easy to identify with the aid of this article.

Additionally, its molts and plumages provide an insight into the birds’ development and environment. Learning and recognizing this species is an excellent way of admiring nature’s beauty and understanding it better.

Systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and historical changes to distribution are all essential topics when studying any bird species. In this article, we will delve into all these topics concerning the Dwarf Koel bird species, also known as Microdynamis parva.

Systematics History

The Dwarf Koel belongs to the Cuculidae family, which includes cuckoos, roadrunners, and malkohas. The family is widespread, with members found all over the world in different tropical parts of the world.

The systematics of the Dwarf Koel and its relation with other species has been an evolving process for many years. Initially, the bird was classified under Eudynamys Scolopacea, the Asian Koel.

However, recent studies have shown dissimilarities between the two species, with dissimilar genetic differences in the 12S and ND2 markers. Furthermore, analyses of the mitochondrial cytochrome B gene sequence phylogeny revealed that this species forms a separate branch and is not closely related to other members of the Eudynamys genus, hence its classification under Microdynamis parva.

Geographic Variation

The Dwarf Koel has a wide distribution, with its habitat spanning from the Indian subcontinent to the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. This distribution has led to geographic variation in the species.

The bird’s morphology, color, and size vary depending on the region it is found in. As a result, several subspecies have been identified.


The species is distributed widely, and as a result, it has several subspecies. The following is a list of the subspecies identified to date:


M. p.

parva: the type subspecies of Dwarf Koel, found in northeastern India. 2.

M. p.

subpallida: found in Bangladesh, northeastern India, and Myanmar. 3.

M. p.

sarasinorum: found in southern Myanmar and Thailand. 4.

M. p.

erythrocephala: found in Peninsular Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo. 5.

M. p.

mariae: found in the Philippines. 6.

M. p.

andamanensis: found on the Andaman Islands. 7.

M. p.

simalurensis: found on the Simalur Islands off Sumatra.

Related Species

The Dwarf Koel is part of the cuckoo family, and as a result, it is related to other species in the family. Some of the species closely related to the Dwarf Koel include the Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus), the Common Hawk-Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius), and the Plaintive Cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus).

These species, though closely related, can be differentiated easily by observing their physical characteristics.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Dwarf Koel is known for its widespread distribution, but its presence has diminished in some areas due to various reasons. One of the main reasons for the Dwarf Koel’s declining population is habitat loss.

Logging, land conversion, and agriculture have all contributed to the destruction of the species’ natural habitat. This has led to a reduction in its population, and in some areas, it has become endangered.

Another reason for the bird’s declining population is hunting. The bird is known for its vibrant plumage, which has led some people to hunt them down for their feathers.

Hunting is prevalent in some regions where the bird is considered a delicacy. Historical changes to the distribution of the Dwarf Koel can also be seen in its migration patterns.

Due to its wide distribution, the bird is known to migrate in search of food and other resources. In some areas, this migration is no longer taking place due to the changes in the climate, which have led to a lack of resources.


Systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and historical changes to distribution are all integral parts to understanding the Dwarf Koel bird species. Through extensive research and analysis, more information about this species has been discovered, and it is essential to continue learning about these fascinating creatures to preserve them for future generations.

With threatened habitats and population declines, it is important to take steps to ensure that the Dwarf Koel and other similar species are kept safe and can thrive in their natural habitats. The Dwarf Koel (Microdynamis parva) is a unique bird species known for its striking appearance and enchanting calls.

Understanding their habitat, movements, and migration is essential to comprehend its survival and behavior patterns.


The Dwarf Koel is a tropical bird found in different parts of Southeast Asia. Its habitat is primarily made up of dense forests, mangroves, and bushlands.

The bird prefers to reside in the undergrowth and lower stands of mature forests, making it difficult to spot. The Dwarf Koel has adapted well in the urban habitat and can be seen in parks and gardens.

It is also found in areas of human settlements where there is a presence of large gardens and tree canopy covers. In general, the Dwarf Koel is more prevalent in subtropical and tropical climates where there is a presence of a humid environment.

The bird’s distribution range reaches from the Malay Peninsula, throughout Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Bali, Andaman Islands to southern China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Sulawesi.

Movements and Migration

The movements and migration patterns of the Dwarf Koel are fascinating. The bird’s movements are primarily influenced by climate and resource availability.

The bird is considered sedentary in most parts of its range, with some populations locally migratory. Residents in southern areas are known to be a little more migratory than their northern counterparts.

In general, however, the bird does not make long-distance movements. In some of its southern habitats, such as Sulawesi, populations are believed to shift their altitudinal ranges regularly, and this is mainly in response to food availability and changes in the breeding season’s timing.

The bird sometimes makes seasonal movements within its range, especially during periods of scarcity of food resources. During the breeding period, the bird is more likely to remain stationary, defending its territory, and taking care of its young.

The bird’s movements are also highly influenced by weather patterns. During periods of extreme weather such as droughts or heavy rainfalls, there is a tendency to move further away from its habitat in search of new resources.

These movements appear to be isolated and chaotic, but the bird generally returns to its traditional habitat once the climatic conditions normalize. Migration is not a common occurrence in the Dwarf Koel bird species, but when it happens, it is driven by resource availability.

Populations in the northern end of the bird’s range also experience more significant migration. In China, several Dwarf Koels are known to migrate southwards to their wintering grounds.

The Dwarf Koel’s movements and migration are primarily influenced by resource availability, weather patterns, and breeding periods. The bird adapts quickly to these changes and remains in its preferred habitat as long as conditions for survival remain favorable.

In conclusion, understanding the Dwarf Koel’s habitat, movements, and migration patterns is essential to preserving the species’ future. The bird is a vital part of its ecosystem and contributes significantly to the cyclic process of nature.

Knowledge of their environment, movements, and migration behaviors aid in preserving the species and helps to increase awareness of its ecological importance. Efforts should be made to protect their habitats, particularly those that have experienced destruction due to urbanization, farming, and logging.

The Dwarf Koel (Microdynamis parva) is a unique bird species that not only has striking physical characteristics but also has peculiar behaviors. Understanding its diet and foraging habits and its sounds and vocal behavior is crucial in comprehending the species’ ecology and survival.

Diet and Foraging


The Dwarf Koel feeds mainly on fruits and insects, although it has been known to eat other small animals such as lizards, caterpillars, and snails. The bird is known to be omnivorous, meaning it feeds on both animals and plants.

The bird’s foraging activity is mainly done during the day, particularly at dawn and dusk when there is an abundance of fruit trees and insects.


The bird’s diet varies depending on the habitat, season, and availability of resources. In the wild, the bird feeds on fruits such as Berries, figs, and small fruits like Pisonia and Melastoma.

The bird also feeds on the fruits of several trees that grow around the mangrove forest. It has a preference for the fruit of the Canarium genus, which is widely available across the bird’s range.

Apart from eating fruits, the bird has a reputation for being an aggressive insect predator. The bird is known for being voracious feeders on insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and cicadas.

It plucks these insects off leaves and branches and regularly chases down flying insects in the air as it searches for food.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Dwarf Koels have warm-blooded metabolism and are capable of regulating their body temperature within a relatively narrow range. They have evolved unique plumage coloration, which helps to keep their body temperature stable.

The bird’s dull colors during the nighttime have a heat-absorbing capacity while its black color during the day helps to dissipate the absorbed heat.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


One of the unique characteristics of the Dwarf Koel is its vocalization. The bird is known for its distinct calls and songs, which are used to communicate with other birds in the area.

The bird’s vocal abilities are considered among the most beautiful in the cuckoo family. The male Dwarf Koel has a distinct mating call, a series of drawn-out coos that gradually ascend in pitch and then fall in a descending manner.

The call is repeated several times in a clear and melodious tone, making it one of the most captivating sounds in nature. The female also has unique calls that are similar to the male but shorter and less elaborate.

Its calls are often accompanied by flapping of wings, which is a sign of aggression or warning. The bird’s vocal range and ability to mimic sounds have also been noted.

The Dwarf Koel’s vocalization is not just a mere sound, but it is an essential means of communication that helps in attracting mates, warning of predators, or claiming territory. It is an essential part of the bird’s behavior that has been shaped by its environment and habitat.

In conclusion, understanding the Dwarf Koel’s diet and foraging habits and its sounds and vocal behavior is essential in comprehending the species’ ecology and survival. The bird’s diet consists primarily of fruits and insects, which are vital resources for its survival.

The bird’s metabolic rate and ability to regulate its body temperature are also unique characteristics that allow for survival in different climates and weather patterns. The bird’s vocalization is also an essential means of communication that helps connect and establish relationships within its community.

Efforts should be made to protect its habitat sustainably to ensure the survival of this fascinating species. Understanding the behavior of the Dwarf Koel (Microdynamis parva) is crucial in comprehending their ecology and survival.

In this article, we will delve into their locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, sexual behavior, breeding, and demography and populations.



Dwarf Koels are tree-dwelling birds and are primarily arboreal. Their legs and feet are well adapted for grasping and walking through branches.

The bird has a strong bill that is used for cutting through their primary food source, fruits. In the breeding season, the bird becomes highly territorial, exhibiting displays of wing flaps, tail fanning, and ground chasing to establish dominance.

Self Maintenance

The bird has a unique grooming behavior used to maintain its feathers and keep itself clean. It has a specific oil gland near the base of its tail, which produces oil that it then rubs on its feathers to keep them waterproof.

Agonistic Behavior

Agonistic behavior in Dwarf Koels involves aggressive posturing against rival individuals and is mainly done during the breeding season. Characteristics of these behaviors include tail puffing and flapping, and aggressive calling towards adjacent individuals.

Aerial pursuit and chasing on the ground are common, particularly when trying to defend territories.

Sexual Behavior

Sexual behaviors involve the male’s intense desire to pair with a female counterpart. The male koel adapts a cooing behavior when they encounter females during breeding season, and females will respond with weaker coos as they search for an ideal mate.

Males will also engage in aerial displays, which can be seen as a sign of sexual prowess, and it is believed this display helps females to choose a mate.


Dwarf Koels breed during the early part of the year when temperatures and humidity levels are high, and food sources are abundant. The breeding season varies depending on the region, but the bird is known to breed once a year and produces an average of two eggs per clutch.

Typically, both the male and female are active during nesting and incubation. Nesting behaviors include placing eggs in shared habitats, using abandoned nests of other birds, or constructing new nests from scratch.

Demography and Populations

The populations of Dwarf Koels have been in decline because of habitat destruction, hunting, and climate change.

Habitat destruction and the conversion of forests into agricultural land has reduced the available habitat for the birds to nest, roost and forage.

They can no longer access the food they need to breed and continue to grow their populations. Hunting and capture for the pet trade have also led to further declines in the bird’s population.

Despite these declines, several conservation efforts are underway to save the species. Captive breeding programs have been established to expand populations and monitor newly captive-bred populations’ health and behavior.

Habitat restoration programs have also been introduced to provide more available hectares of habitat to provide food sources, nesting areas, and breeding grounds. In conclusion, understanding the behavior of the Dwarf Koel is essential to preserve its future.

Efforts must be made to conserve their habitats, regulate hunting and combat climate change to ensure the species’ survival. By protecting the Dwarf Koel and addressing these environmental challenges, we can help maintain the ecological balance and preserve one

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