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White-browed Coucal - BirdForum Opus


nominate ssp
Photo © by mikemik
Serengeti, Tanzania, May 2018
Centropus superciliosus

Includes: Burchell's Coucal


Juvenile, subspecies superciliosus
Photo © by mikemik
Tarangire, Tanzania, April 2018

36–42 cm (14-16½ in)

  • Dark brown head
  • Broad white supercilium
  • Creamy underparts
  • Long tail


burchelli lacks the white superciliary stripe


Central, southern and eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
Western Africa: Gabon, DRC and Angola
Eastern Africa: Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Pemba Island, Mafia Island, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho
Middle East: Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Socotra


Photo © by rudydbn
Illovo Glen, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, October 2004


Centropus superciliosus has four subspecies[1]:

  • C. s. superciliosus:
  • C. s. sokotrae:
  • C. s. loandae:
  • C. s. burchellii:

C. burchellii is sometimes accepted as full species, Burchell's Coucal.

Burchell's Coucal
Photo © by George Koninis
Kruger National Park, South Africa, October 2012


Riverine bush and wetlands.


It can be difficult to see due to its habit of skulking in shrubbery, undergrowth and dense waterside vegetation.


As with other Coucals, the White-browed Coucal is non-parasitic. The males construct a nest, they then incubate the eggs and provide most of the feeding and care for the young.


Puffed up behaviour
Photo © by rdavis
Near Xigera Camp, central Okavango Delta, Botswana, November 2011

It has a wide diet consisting mostly of insects, but it will also take young birds and eggs. While it will feed on the ground it is easily disturbed, returning to cover in a clumsy, awkward fashion. These birds are not elegant fliers!


They have a very distinctive song which consists of a series of "gurgling" notes which resemble the sound of water being poured from a bottle and gives them their local Kenyan name of "The Water Bottle Bird".


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved November 2016)

Recommended Citation

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