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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Centropodidae (coucals)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Cuculiformes

Species indigenous to southern Africa

Centropus burchellii (Burchell's coucal) 

The Burchell's coucal is endemic, being found mainly in South Africa, living in a wide variety of habitats. It is a voracious predator, feeding on small birds, mammals, reptiles and insects. Interestingly, the male does more work than the female, building the nest, incubating the eggs and doing most of the hunting. The chick's feet develop quickly, and they are capable of clambering around bushes long before they can fly. They usually leave the nest at 21 days old, after which they are still dependent on their parents for weeks.

Centropus cupreicaudus (Coppery-tailed coucal) 

The Coppery-tailed coucal is endemic to south-central Africa, occurring in a small band from south-western Angola to the Caprivi Strip and northern Botswana, preferring dense waterside vegetation. It eats a wide range of animals, including grasshoppers, frogs and fish. The nest is a hastily built ball of grass, placed in dense tangles of reed or grass, sometimes over water. It lays 2-4 eggs, sometimes before the nest has been completed, and are probably incubated by the male. The chicks are fed mainly locusts and frogs by both parents, leaving the nest after about 17 days.

Centropus grillii (Black coucal) 

The Black coucal occupies large areas of sub-Saharan Africa, preferring moist, marshy grassland, with little or no trees. In southern Africa it is scarce and localised, and is now classified as near-threatened in South Africa, due to habitat loss. It exclusively eats invertebrates, such as grasshoppers, centipedes and spiders. It is mostly polyandrous, meaning that one female can mate with multiple males, laying 2-6 eggs in a cup-shaped nest built by the male. She then leaves for another male's territory, leaving him to incubate the eggs, for about 14 days, and take care of the chicks, who leave the nest at about 18-20 days old.

Centropus senegalensis (Senegal coucal) 

Centropus superciliosus (White-browed coucal) 

The White-browed coucal is fairly common in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique, living in thick vegetation. It feeds on a wide a wide variety of animals, such as mammals, birds and insects. The nest is large sphere with a side entrance, made of grass blades or stems. It lays 3-5 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes, for 14-16 days. For the first three days of their life, the chicks are brooded by one parent, and fed by the other, after which both the parents do the hunting. The brood leave the nest at 18-20 days old, the fledgling period has not been studied.