Burchell’s Coucal… Beauty and Beast..

Burchell’s Coucal (Centropus burchellii)

A coucal is one of about 30 species of birds in the cuckoo family. All of them belong in the subfamily Centropodinae and the genus Centropus. Now that should give you a hint as to the Beast side of the bird…

This bird is so beautiful, shy and yet such a beast when it comes to it’s eating habits. It is well known for its haunting call, that once begun by one, is joined by all in the area    Click here to get a quick version of the call.

It has a chestnut-brown back and similar wing feathers and a long tail that flops along as though it has no control over it, with marked bands in its upper parts. with a flattish head that it often pulls back as though to hide itself.

Unlike many cuckoos, coucals are not brood parasites. On the other hand they do have their own reproductive peculiarity: all members of the genus are to varying degrees sex-role reversed so that the smaller male provides most of the parental care. Typical “henpecked male syndrome”.

The  Burchell’s Coucal eats any prey smaller than itself, and it’s not small, (40 cm long and approx. 180 grams) it has a particular liking for young nestlings and the eggs of other birds. It will seek out and eat off the nest whatever it can find, and for this reason I call it a beast… but then I suppose this is nature in the raw…..

The first two photos I played with, I wanted to get something which a friend of mine is going to try and paint… what do you think..??

tue 19-07-2011 080

tue 19-07-2011 078

tue 19-07-2011 047

tue 19-07-2011 086

tue 19-07-2011 083














Thur 28-07-2011 070

tue 19-07-2011 048

51 thoughts on “Burchell’s Coucal… Beauty and Beast..

  1. Pingback: Gardenbirds, Hartbeespoortdam | Sonel's Corner

  2. Absolutely stunning bird and shots Rob. I was looking for info on this beauty when I found this post of yours. Thanks! 😀

  3. Pingback: Common Cuckoo.. | The Photographic Journey of bulldog.

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  6. This is a wonderful (and interesting) bird call. Our crows in Australia eat other birds and I occasionally see smaller birds fighting them and chasing them away from the nests.

    The two you have taken for your friend to paint will make a fabulous painting! 😉

  7. picture 070 (next to last) is one AMAZING capture! Will you look at that tail!!
    I’m so impressed by the quality of your photos and your ability to get at the essence of every bird you’ve been fortunate enough to photograph. Your blog is really impressive!

  8. so cool bulldog ~ does sound a bit like water flowing! And henpecked males – would never know this!! They really eat other bird’s offspring? Oh my! I’m getting more of an education than I could have even imagined here!! Nature is fascinating… these shots are just stunning!! Much Love to you dear friend ~ R

  9. Come sempre le tue foto sono molto belle e mi danno l’opportunità di conoscere nuovi abitanti del regno animale.
    Per il tuo amico io trovo molto bella ed adatta a un dipinto la seconda foto
    Ciao, Pat 🙂

  10. They’re beautiful birds and I love their call (like a tap dripping), but I hate it that they eat other nestlings. Our crows do that and I hate them! Why can’t all birds eat insects and seeds?

    • That’s what I don’t like either… eat the creepy stuff and leave the next generation to grow so that I can take photos of them… that call in the still of the night, is magnificent and so much louder then it sounds…

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