Greater Coucal

Greater Coucal

Crow pheasant

Centropus sinensis
Population size
236-268 g
48-53 cm

The Greater coucal is a member of the cuckoo family widespread in southeastern Asia. They are large, crow-like with a long tail and coppery brown wings and found in a wide range of habitats. They are weak fliers and are often seen clambering about in vegetation or walking on the ground as they forage for insects, nestlings of other birds. They have a familiar deep resonant call which is associated with omens in many parts of their range.


Greater coucals occur in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. They don't migrate and can be found in mangroves, shrublands, grasslands near rivers, marshes, or creeks. They also frequently visit cultivated areas and rural gardens.

Greater Coucal habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Greater coucals are most active in the warm hours of the morning and in the late afternoon. They sunbathe in the mornings singly or in pairs on the top of vegetation with their wings spread out. They communicate with each other using various calls. The common calls are a booming low 'coop-coop-coops' repeated and with variations and some duets between individuals. When duetting the female has a lower pitched call. Other calls include a rapid rattling 'lotok, lotok ...' and a harsh scolding 'skeeaaaw' and a hissing threat call.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Greater coucals are carnivores (insectivores). These large birds take a wide range of insects, caterpillars, snails, and small vertebrates such as the Saw-scaled vipers. They are also known to eat bird eggs, nestlings, fruits, and seeds.

Mating Habits

15-16 days
3-5 eggs

Greater coucals are monogamous and form pairs. Their breeding season takes place after the monsoon in southern India but varies in other parts of their range but chiefly from June to September. Courtship display involves chases on the ground and the male brings food gifts for the female. The nest is built mostly by the male over about 3 to 8 days. It is a deep cup with a dome in dense vegetation inside tangles of creepers or bamboo clumps. The female lays a clutch of 3-5 eggs that hatch after 15-16 days of incubation. The chicks hatch altricial (helpless) and take between 18 and 22 days to fledge.


Population threats

This species is not endangered at present, however, in some parts of its range populations of the Greater coucal suffer from habitat loss.

Population number

There is no overall population estimate available for the Greater coucal. However, national population sizes include around 100-10,000 breeding pairs and around 50-1,000 individuals on migration in China, and around 100-10,000 breeding pairs in Taiwan. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.


1. Greater Coucal on Wikipedia -
2. Greater Coucal on The IUCN Red List site -

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