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) Antony_Grossy  2, 3) TR Raman 

Coucal,_Bay  Centropus celebensis  Found: Indonesia
Image by: 1) Lip Kee  2) AS_Kono

Coucal,_Black  Centropus grillii  Found: Africa
The male breeding Black Coucal is all black except for brown wings. Nonbreeding has dark brown upperparts with rufous barring.
Image by: 1,  2,  4) Nik_Borrow - Uganda, Guinea  3) Darren Bellerby - Maasai Mara, Kenya  5) David_Bygott - Tanzania
1, 2) nonbreeding

Coucal,_Black-faced   Centropus melanops  Found: Indonesia
Image by: 1) Brendan_Ryan

Coucal,_Black-hooded   Centropus steerii  Found: Indonesia
Image by: 1) Ivan_Sarenas  2) Alister_Benn

Coucal,_Black-throated   Centropus leucogaster  Found: west Africa
The Black-throated Coucal has black head, throat, upper-breast, upper-mantle, tail; rufous-chestnut wings; whitish lower-breast, belly; rufous tinged thighs, flanks, under-tail coverts.
Image by: 1) Nik_Borrow - Ghana

Coucal,_Blue-headed  Centropus monachus  Found: central Africa
The Blue-headed Coucal has black glossed with blue head, nape, upper-breast; deep chestnut wings; black tail; white or pale underparts.
Image by: 1, 2, 3) Nik Borrow - Uganda, Ghana, Cameroon

Coucal,_Buff-headed   Centropus milo  Found: Solomon Islands
The Buff-headed Coucal has buff head, upper-back, underparts; rest black.
Image by: 1) Josep_del_Hoyo

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) Derek_Keats  - South Africa  3) Lip Kee - Botswana  4, 5, 6)  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  3) Frans_Vandewalle

Coucal,_Gabon  Centropus anselli Found: Arica
The Gabon Coucal has black glossed with purple back, head, nape; dark brown wings; buff lower back, rump, underparts;
Image by: 1) John Gerrard Keulemans  2) Jerome Mokoko Ikonga - Congo

Coucal,_Goliath  Centropus goliath  Found: Maluku Islands (Indonesia)
Image by: 1) Paulo_Alves  2) 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) Shantanu_Kuveskar   2) Koshy_Koshy  3)   Hafiz_Issadeen - Sri Lanka 4) Vijay_Ismavel - India  5) Imran_Shah - Pakistan

Coucal,_Greater_Black also Ivory-billed Coucal  Centropus menbeki  Found: New Guinea
The Greater Black Coucal has black plumage; red eyes; ivory-colored bill.
Image by: 1) Katerina_Tvardikova  2)

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) Amila_Tennakoon  2) Kisholi_Mendis

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) Katerina_Tvardikova  2) Jerry Oldenettel - New Guinea

Coucal,_Madagascar  also  Malagasy Coucal  Centropus toulou  Found: Madagascar, Sechelles
The breeding Madagascar Coucal has mainly black with green gloss plumage; reddish-brown mid and lower back; brown tipped wings. Nonbreeding brown streaked with cream head, mantle, neck, upper-breast.
Image by: 1) Francesco_Veronesi  2) Nicholas Ory - Madagascar  3) Frank Vassen - Madagascar 
    4, 5) Dick Daniels - Parc Tsarasaotra (open bird sanctury in Antananrivo)
1, 2) Nonbreeding 3, 4) Breeding

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) Katerina_Tvardikova  2) Jame Niland  3) Arthur Chapman - Queenlsland, Australia  4) Tatters
2, 3) Nonbreeding  4) Breeding

Coucal,_Philippine  Centropus viridis  Found: Philippines
Image by: 1) Blake Matheson  2) Leif_Gabrielsen - North Luzon

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) Katerina_Tvardikova  2) unknown  3, 4) David Cook 

Coucal,_Rufous  Centropus unirufuFound: Philippines
The Rufous Coucal is found on Luzon and nearby islands.
Image by: 1) Lius LImchiu  2) Sylvia_Ramos - Luzon

Coucal,_Senegal  Centropus senegalensis Found: central and southern Africa 
The Senegal Coucal has black crown, nape, tail; chestnut wings; white underparts, checks, throat.
Image by: 1) Frans_Vandewalle - Gambia  2) Thom Hasi - Senegal 3) tj haslam 4) Ian White - Zimbabwe  5) Charles Sharp - Gambia

Coucal,_Short-toed   Centropus rectunguis  Found: southeast Asia
The Short-toed Coucal is found in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Image by: 1) Rosli_Omar

Coucal,_Sunda also Javan Coucal  Centropus nigrorufus  Found: Java (Indonesia)
Image by: 1) Fatih PR

Coucal,_Violaceous   Centropus violaceus  Found: New Guinea
Image by: 1) Katerina_Tvardikova   2, N3) Nik_Borrow

Coucal,_White-browed  Centropus superciliosus Found: Africa
Image by:  1) adrian_valenzuela - Tanzania 2) Mathieu_Breitenstein - Kenya  3) Frederic Salein 4) Carol Foil - Kenya  5) Nik Borrow - Uganda

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