BIRDS of THE WORLD - An Online Bird Book

CUCKOOS and their Allies

Order Cuculiformes   Family Cuculidae

In addition to cuckoos, the cuckoo family Cuculidae also includes the roadrunners, koels, malkohas, couas, coucals and anis. The coucals and anis are sometimes separated as distinct families. The cuckoos are generally medium sized slender birds. The majority are of the cuculidae family are arboreal, with a sizeable minority that are terrestrial. Most are tropical and the temperate species are migratory. The cuckoos feed on insects, insect larva, as well as fruit. Many species are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other species, but the majority of species raise their own young. Cuckoos are medium sized birds that range in size from 15-63 cm. There is generally little sexual dimorphism in size, but where it exists, it can be either the male or the female that is larger. There are two basic body forms, arboreal species which are slender and have short tarsi, and terrestrial species which are more heavy set and have long tarsi. Almost all species have long tails which are used for steering in terrestrial species and as a rudder during flight in the arboreal species.

The turacos have also been consider part of the Cuculiformes order, but they may be placed in their own order Musophagiformes.


A coucal is one of about 30 species of birds in the cuckoo family. Unlike many Old World cuckoos, coucals are not brood parasites. On the other hand they do have their own reproductive peculiarity: all members of the genus are to varying degrees sex-role reversed so that the smaller male provides most of the parental care.

Many coucals have a long claw on their hind toe. Coucals generally make nests inside dense vegetation and they usually have the top covered but some species have the top open.

Genus Centropus
The coucals are not brood parasites. The smaller male provides most of the parental care.Many coucals have a long claw on their hind toe.

Coucal, Andaman   Centropus andamanensis  Found: Andaman Islands (west of Myanmar in Indian Ocean)
The Andaman Coucal has chestnut mantle, wings; paly tawny-brown head, underparts.;
Image by: 1) Joseph Smit  2, 3) TR Raman

Coucal, Bay  Centropus celebensis  Found: Indonesia
Image by: 1) Lip Kee

Coucal, Black  Centropus grillii  Found: Africa
The Black Coucal is all black except for brown wings.
Image by: 1) Darren Bellerby - Maasai Mara, Kenya

Coucal, Blue-headed  Centropus monachus  Found: Africa
Image by: 1) Alexander Yates

Coucal, Burchell's  Centropus burchelli   Found: Africa
The Burchell's Coucal is often considered to be a subspecies of the White-browed Coucal and is assigned Centropus superciliosus burchelli.
Image by: 1, 2, 3)  Arno Meintjes  

Coucal, Coppery-tailed  Centropus cupreicaudus  Found: Africa
The Coppery-tailed Coucal has black head, mantle; brownish-black tail; white or cream underparts.
Image by: 1, 2) Ian White - Zimbabwe

Coucal, Gabon  Centropus anselli Found: Arica
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans

Coucal, Goliath  Centropus goliath  Found: Maluku Islands (Indonesia)
Image by: 1) Francesco Veronesi

Coucal, Greater  also Crow Pheasant  Centropus sinensis  Found: Asia
The Greater Coucal has chestnut brown back, wings; black head; black glossed with purple mantle, underparts; red eyes. This is a large species of cuckoo. Widespread resident in Asia, from India, east to south China and Indonesia,
Image by: 1) J M Garg - Haryana, India  2) Bhardwaj Shanthanu - India

Coucal, Green-billed  Centropus chlororhynchos  Found: Sri Lanka
The Green-billed Coucal has a light green bill; mainly purple-black plumage; maroon wings.
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans

Coucal, Lesser  Centropus bengalensis  Found: Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines
The Lesser Coucal has mainly blackish plumage; rufous wings. Breeding has glossy darkish hood, upper-breast. Nonbreeding has white shafts on head, back.
Image by: 1, 2) Vijay Ismavel 3, 4) Hiyashi Haka
1) Juvenile  2) Nonbreeding  3, 4)Breeding

Coucal, Lesser Black  Centropus bernsteini  Found: New Guinea and nearby islands
The Lesser Black Coucal has black pluamge, bill.
Image by: 1) Jerry Oldenettel - New Guinea

Coucal, Madagascar  also  Malagasy Coucal  Centropus toulou  Found: Madagascar, Sechelles
Image by: 1) Frank Vassen - Madagascar  2) Nicholas Ory - Madagascar
    3, 4) Dick Daniels - Parc Tsarasaotra (open bird sanctury in Antananrivo) *

Coucal, Pheasant  Centropus phasianinus  Found: Australasia
The breeding Pheasant Coucal has blacked barred rufous upperparts; black head, underparts; long pheasant-like tail; red eye. Nonbreeding black head and underparts moult to a white-streaked chestnut color.
Image by: 1) Jame Niland  2) Arthur Chapman near Toowoomba, Queenlsland, Australia
1) Breeding 2) Nonbreeding

Coucal, Philippine  Centropus viridis  Found: Philippines
Image by: 1) Blake Matheson

Coucal, Pied also White-necked Coucal    Centropus ateralbus  Found: Papua New Guinea
The Pied Coucal has mainly black plumage; small white patch on wing; white around neck area. Only black-and-white coucal in range.
Image by: 1, 2) David Cook

Coucal, Rufous  Centropus unirufuFound: Philippines
Image by: 1) Lius LImchiu

Coucal, Senegal  Centropus senegalensis Found: Africa 
The Senegal Coucal has black crown, nape, tail; chestnut wings; white underparts, checks, throat.
Image by: 1) Thom Hasi - Senegal  2) tj haslam  3) Ian White - Zimbabwe

Coucal, Sunda  Centropus nigrorufus  Found: Java (Indonesia)
Image by: 1) Fatih PR

Coucal, White-browed  Centropus superciliosus Found: Africa
Image by:  1) Frederic Salein  2) Lip Kee Yap - alsogera National Park, Rwanda  3) Carol Foil - Kenya

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