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Senegal Coucal - BirdForum Opus

Centropus senegalensis
Photo by Steve G
Kairaba Hotel, Kololi, The Gambia, March 2005


39 cm

  • Black upperparts, bill, legs and long tail
  • Chestnut wings
  • White underparts

Sexes are similar

Photo by Sidor
Kololi, Gambia, November 2007

Juveniles are duller and barred above

There is a rarer dark phase of the bird, which some people believe to be a different species. The dark-phase bird is only found from Ghana to southern Nigeria. The two phases interbreed[3].


Northern Africa: found only in Egypt
Western Africa: Mauritania, Senegambia, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, DRC, Angola
Eastern Africa: Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa


Photo by obasanmi
Ranwelli, Sri Lanka, June 2013


There are 3 subspecies[1]:

  • C. s. aegyptius:
  • Lower Egypt (Nile River to El Minya)
  • C. s. senegalensis:
  • C. s. flecki:


Moist woodland scrub, swamps, farmland and gardens.


Active at dawn & again at dusk.

A bizarre skulking cuckoo relative which spends a large amount of time on the ground creeping through the undergrowth.


They are not brood parasites, building large untidy ball-shaped nests of stalks and leaves in vegetation. The clutch consists of 2-4 eggs.

Though their reproductive strategy is poorly understood it may involve juvenile helpers and possibly polygamy.


The diet includes large insects, caterpillars, small lizards and frogs.


This bird's call is a classical west African sound resembling water glugging out of a bottle (hence the alternative name of Bottle-bird) - a kind of sonorous low pitched who-who-who-who-who noise.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. JH Elgood's "Birds of the West African town and garden"
  4. BF Member observations

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