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Immature Coucal ID help, Hainan, China (1 Viewer)

Hainan on the fly

Well-known member
I apologize for the quality of these pictures but I was hoping I could place this as an immature Lesser Coucal over an immature Greater Coucal. I think the brown head makes this pretty clear cut, correct?

As long as we are on the topic of these two species, I'm also wondering if anyone has any advice on identifying the adults from a distance.

Thanks,

Brian
 

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johnallcock

Well-known member
I'd say you're right about Lesser Coucal on this bird, given the shade of brown and also it seems to be streaked.

Beware that some juvenile Greaters can be fairly brown, but that is usually due to brown tips to black feathers so overall they appear darker than this, and are also a more reddish-chestnut tone rather than the straw colour on this bird. For example: http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?Bird_Image_ID=31863&Bird_ID=462&Bird_Family_ID=&Location=

What I am less confident about is ageing this bird. Adult and First winter Lesser have a streaked brown winter plumage, very different from the summer adults. I think your bird is in this plumage, so could only be aged if you can see barred juvenile flight feathers.


For separating Lesser and Greater at distance, that's easy at this time of year when they have very different plumage. In summer, I usually look for streaking on the mantle/wings of Lesser, which is visible at quite a long distance. The upperparts of Lesser also look a shade paler, perhaps due to the streaking. Lesser tends to look slightly shorter-tailed and smaller-billed, but that can be hard to judge.
Habitat is also useful, at least in HK - Greater occur anywhere, but usually where there is lots of shrubby vegetation. Lesser mostly occurs in grassland or grassy marshes without many shrubs. There is some overlap though, so don't rely solely on this.
 

andyb39

Well-known member
I was going mostly on the apparent size and structure, especially the bill shape and size, but I agree with you that the bird seems to show white streaks in one or two images. It doesn't appear to be a barred juvenile anyway.
 

Hainan on the fly

Well-known member
I'd say you're right about Lesser Coucal on this bird, given the shade of brown and also it seems to be streaked.

Beware that some juvenile Greaters can be fairly brown, but that is usually due to brown tips to black feathers so overall they appear darker than this, and are also a more reddish-chestnut tone rather than the straw colour on this bird. For example: http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?Bird_Image_ID=31863&Bird_ID=462&Bird_Family_ID=&Location=

What I am less confident about is ageing this bird. Adult and First winter Lesser have a streaked brown winter plumage, very different from the summer adults. I think your bird is in this plumage, so could only be aged if you can see barred juvenile flight feathers.


For separating Lesser and Greater at distance, that's easy at this time of year when they have very different plumage. In summer, I usually look for streaking on the mantle/wings of Lesser, which is visible at quite a long distance. The upperparts of Lesser also look a shade paler, perhaps due to the streaking. Lesser tends to look slightly shorter-tailed and smaller-billed, but that can be hard to judge.
Habitat is also useful, at least in HK - Greater occur anywhere, but usually where there is lots of shrubby vegetation. Lesser mostly occurs in grassland or grassy marshes without many shrubs. There is some overlap though, so don't rely solely on this.


Excellent, thanks for the detailed description! I had a feeling that I was mostly seeing Greater but your description of habitat helps confirm this. This is certainly the first Lesser I have seen in its winter plumage. As always, I greatly appreciate you taking the time to help.

Cheers,

Brian
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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