Greater Coucal


Greater Coucal / Crow Pheasant

The greater coucal (also: crow pheasant, lat. Cetropus sinensis) is a bird from the cuckoo family. They live in the most parts of Southeast Asia on the northwestern side of the Wallace Line, in greater parts of China and India. They fall into two subspecies of which the second one is Centropus andamanensis. Although cuckoos, they don't breed parasitic.

Greater Coucals, Couple

'A Couple of Greater Coucals' by Asienreisender

Greater coucals, drawing on an information board in a nature reserve in Chumpon, Thailand. The female is slightly bigger than the male. Image by Asienreisender, 8/2010

Their habitats are dry forests, savannah, mangrove forests, sweetwater swamps, riverbanks and rural and sometimes urban gardens. Greater coucals are, in my personal experience, often to see in rural Thailand, more often than in other Southeast Asian countries.

Striking are their cries who call over one or two kilometers. It sounds like 'hoop - hoop - hoop - hoop - hoop' in a rising tone. They also produce a different, rattling tone. Among the so superstitious populations of Southeast Asia, the bird's calls are often associated with the call of spirits and with omens.

For a cuckoo, the greater coucal is an unusually large bird. He reaches a length of up to 50cm. He is no good aviator, but a skilled climber.

His diet consists of insects (including millipedes, ants, scorpions and spiders), lizards, snakes, frogs and toads, little birds and their eggs and mice. Occasionally he feeds from carrion. In palmoil plantations, greater coucals appear sometimes to feed from the palm fruit and are considered a crop pest.

Greater coucals live monogamous. In the mating time the male brings gifts for the female and they perform a courtship dance. The male then builds a nest, supported by the female, which takes three to eight days. The nest has a triangular shape, consisting of a dense nexus of twists and other vegetation.

The female lays up to five eggs, who are hatched in more than a fortnight. The chicks need another three weeks then to fledge.

Greater Coucals

'Greater Coucal' by Asienreisender

Greater Coucals at the banks of Areng River and in a greenstripe behind Palmy Home in Ranong (bottom right). Images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 10/2012, 3/2016

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Published on March 12st, 2016

256 | Greater Coucal

Last update on May 12th, 2017