In my earlier blog I had written about Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus). I had another close encounter with this common bird in our kitchen garden. As I was planing to go to my clinic on that day I saw a pair of Juvenile Asian Koels sitting on the Yellow Oleander plant. I quickly grabbed my Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens which was fitted on Canon EOS 7D and went out to photograph these pair. My choice of lens for that situation turned a wrong one. I was too close to the bird. It was as though doing a macro shoot of the bird. Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L is not a good macro lens. The closest it can focus is around 2.5 meters giving a 0.13x magnification. If I was on 70-200mm then it would have been better.
9:40 AM light was quite harsh which you can notice by the overexposed highlight on the shoulder of the bird. If i had under exposed then the bird would have rendered dark. This is why we prefer the golden light of the early morning or late evening which gives a nicer mellow light with lower contrast. Cloudy days are boon to photographers as the sky becomes a large lightbox. Rule of thumb is if shadows are not very dark then the light is nice for good photography.
They were also squabbling among themselves for the fruit and just looked playful. Male who was on the ground noticed my presence first and flew away, but the female did not notice me and gave quite a few poses before realizing that she is being photographed and flying off.
Both the birds were busy eating the fruit of yellow oleander (Thevetia peruviana) which are toxic to mammals. Thevetia peruviana is a plant native to central and southern Mexico and Central America. It is a close relative of Nerium oleander, giving it one common name as Yellow Oleander, and is also called lucky nut, Captain Cook Nut in the West Indies.
Thevetia peruviana is an evergreen tropical shrub or small tree. Its leaves are willow-like, linear-lanceolate, and glossy green in colour. They are covered in waxy coating to reduce water loss (typical of oleanders). Its stem is green turning silver/gray as it ages.
Flowers bloom from summer to fall. The long funnel-shaped sometimes-fragrant yellow (less commonly apricot) flowers are in few-flowered terminal clusters. Its fruit is deep red—black in color encasing a large seed that bears some resemblance to a ‘Chinese lucky nut.’ Thevetia peruviana contains a milky sap containing a compound called thevetin that is used as a heart stimulant but in its natural form is extremely poisonous, as are all parts of the plants, especially the seeds.
Thevetia peruviana is cultivated as an ornamental plant, and planted as large flowering shrub or small ornamental tree standards in gardens and parks in temperate climates.
Thevetia peruviana inhibited spermatogenesis in rats, indicating the possibility of developing a herbal male contraceptive.
Thevetia peruviana plants are toxic to most vertebrates as they contain cardiac glycosides. Many cases of intentional and accidental poisoning of humans are known. Only a few bird species are however known to feed on them without any ill effects. These include the Asian Koel, Red-whiskered Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Brahminy Myna, Common Myna and Common Grey Hornbill.