Burchell’s Coucal

Centropus burchelli

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).

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29 thoughts on “Burchell’s Coucal

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      You’re quite right, Kim – the coucals are very prominent inhabitants of most of the Zululand reserves. We’re lucky to have had a few visits to our garden here in Pretoria, and always so special to hear their call!

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  1. JANE

    What a handsome bird. I agree with Lindy. Your posts always illuminate places and wildlife that I would not be able to see or fully appreciate without having you as a guide.

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. John

    Beautiful bird, and its eyes is red as an albino. The cuckoo we have in Sweden don´t hatch their eggs themselves, they lay eggs in other birds’ nests, and let the other birds do the job. 😀

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      1. John

        The cuckoos that hatch then puts eggs in same species nest, where they hatched. They also know which kind of birds who find if there are other eggs in the nest, and then abandon the nests.

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