Burchell’s Coucal is a common resident of South Africa’s wetter southern, eastern and northern provinces, where it is usually seen singly or in pairs in riverine thickets, dense, wet grasslands and marshes, reedbeds and densely planted parks and gardens. It is also found in Mozambique, Swaziland and parts of Botswana and Zimbabwe. They are carnivorous birds, preying on a variety of small mammals, birds, eggs, reptiles, amphibians, snails and insects, although they will consume a small quantity of fruit.
Breeding in this species takes place in spring and summer. Pairs are monogamous and males build the pair’s nest in thickets of low trees and shrubs or other dense vegetation. Clutches usually numbering four (range between 2 and 5) eggs are incubated for a little over two weeks, mostly by the male. Nestlings leave the nest at around three weeks old, but are still cared for by their parents for quite some time thereafter.
Adult Burchell’s Coucal grow to a total length of over 40cm and weigh up to 210g. Their distinctive call, like water flowing out of a bottle, is often heard at dawn and dusk. Some authorities consider Burchell’s Coucal to be a race of the White-browed Coucal (C. superciliosus).