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Greater Coucal - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies C. s. parroti
Photo © by Steve G
Hibiscus Hotel, Tissa, Sri Lanka, July 2009

Alternative names: Common Crow Pheasant

Centropus sinensis


These are large members of the Cuckoo family, 47 - 52cm (18½-20½ in).

  • Black head
  • Black, glossed purple upper mantle and underparts
  • Chestnut back and wings
  • Lack pale shaft streaks on the coverts
  • Red eyes


  • Duller black with spots on the crown
  • Whitish bars on the underside and tail


Nominate subspecies
Photo © by HongKongPixels
Hong Kong, May 2013

kangeanensis has pale buff head and body and a grey tail, also a dark morph with grey throat and mottled grey breast


Found in southeast Asia from India east to south China, Indochina and Indonesia.
Widespread and common in most of its range.


Forms a superspecies with Andaman Coucal. parroti is sometimes split as Southern Coucal.


Nominate subspecies
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, India, June-2013
Subspecies parroti
Photo © by S K Gudi
Hubli, Karnataka, India, July 2017

There are 6 subspecies[1]:

  • C. s. sinensis:
  • C. s. parroti:
  • C. s. intermedius:
  • C. s. bubutus:
  • C. s. anonymus:
  • Southern Philippines (Jolo, Tawitawi, Basilan and Sanga Sanga)
  • C. s. kangeangensis:
  • Kangean Islands (Java Sea)

An additional subspecies, eurycercus is generally considered invalid[1].


Scrubland, secondary forest, tall grassland, thickets, paddyfields, mangroves, bamboo and gardens. Avoids dense primary forest.
Occurs from lowlands up to 1200m, occasionally up to 2100m.


Wanders around like a pheasant, but walks more like a raven. The are well known for sunbathing with wings open wide.
When disturbed they make short flights with shallow wing beats and brief glides into cover.


Photo © by paux
Mai Po NR, Hong Kong, September 2020

Feeds on small mammals, lizards, snakes, frogs, insects, scorpions, spiders, snails, slugs, eggs and nestlings of small birds, fruits and seeds.


Breeding season in the rains, mainly from June to September in northern India, all year in southern India and Sri Lanka. A monogamous species. The nest is a large globular cell made of twigs and leaves and with a lateral entrance. It's hidden in a thick bush or low in a thorny tree or in a paddfield. Lays 2 to 4 eggs.


This is a resident species.


Listen in an external program

Recording by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, India, June-2013
One individual sitting on top of a stunted tree and calling during peak summer. Calls by Indian Peafowl, Jungle Babbler, Grey Francolin and White-breasted Kigfisher can also be heard in the BG.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1997. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334221
  3. Bird Forum Member observations

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