Birda Logo
A photo of a Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis)
Greater Coucal

Greater Coucal

Centropus sinensis

The Greater Coucal, also known as the Crow Pheasant (Centropus sinensis), presents itself as a large, non-parasitic member of the cuckoo order. This bird, stretching to a length of 48 cm, boasts a striking black head, a glossy purple-black mantle and underside, and chestnut brown wings. The eyes of this species are a captivating ruby red, while juveniles exhibit a duller black with spots on the crown and white bars on the underside and tail.

Identification Tips

To identify the Greater Coucal, look for its long tail and the characteristic long and straight hind claw. The absence of pale shaft streaks on the coverts is notable. Leucistic specimens, displaying partial albinism, have been observed, though they are rare.


This bird is quite adaptable, found in a variety of habitats ranging from dense jungle to cultivated areas and even urban gardens.


The Greater Coucal is a widespread resident across the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is divided into several subspecies, with some being treated as full species. The nominate race inhabits areas from the Indus Valley to southern China, while other races are distributed across Peninsular India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and the Malay Peninsula, extending to the islands of Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and the Philippines.


The Greater Coucal is known for its weak flight capabilities, often seen clambering in vegetation or walking on the ground. It is most active during the warm hours of the morning and late afternoon. Sunbathing is a common behavior, with the bird spreading its wings atop vegetation.

Song & Calls

The species is recognized by its deep, resonant call, often associated with omens in its range. The call is a low "coop-coop-coops" that varies, including duets between individuals. The female's call is typically lower pitched.


Breeding occurs after the monsoon in southern India, with the season varying across its range. Greater Coucals are monogamous, and the male engages in courtship displays, including chases and food gifts. The nest is a dome-shaped structure built in dense vegetation, and the typical clutch consists of 3-5 chalky white eggs.

Similar Species

The Greater Coucal can be confused with the Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis), but the latter has a stubbier bill, shorter tail, and dark eyes, among other distinguishing features.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet includes insects, caterpillars, snails, small vertebrates, bird eggs, nestlings, fruits, and seeds. They have also been known to consume the toxic fruits of Cascabela thevetia.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Greater Coucal as Least Concern, indicating a stable population without significant threats at present.

In the words of David Attenborough, "The Greater Coucal, with its deep, resonant call, is a bird that captures the essence of the wild landscapes it inhabits. Its adaptability to various environments is a testament to the resilience of nature."

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Greater Coucals on Birda


More Cuckoos

Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Safira V
Birding and wellbeing app
Birda is an excellent platform to share your love of Birding and is a great tool of encouragement for a Birding Beginner like me. Birda has a very kind and supportive community of Birding enthusiasts. For me BIRDA is not only a BIRDING but also a WELLBEING App.
Wonderful App
Birda is my go to app for keeping records of my bird sightings and sessions. It has fantastic information which is great at aiding identification. With all the updates that are coming in the new year, this app is something special.
Stewart W
Fantastic to be involved
Fantastic to be involved, great for mental health and gets you responding with the Challenges that are to takd part in.
Ideal Birdwatch Companion
Simply adds to the enjoyment of my birdwatching and helps me record what I’ve seen.
Great App
Great app to use for logging and communicating with others who are interested in birds
Really great app
It’s easy to use and it’s fun to log the birds you notice on a walk or just in your garden. There’s a option to record the birds you see in a session which is really nice. Good excuse to stop for a while and just watch birds. I am also enjoying the information part where you can find out fact about birds from all over the world.
Great app for learning Birds
I’ve been using the app for a couple of months and love it....Someone said it’s like a real life Pokémon Go for birds. They’re not far off! It’s something that the family can do that gets you out and about. Well worth downloading no matter your age.
Such a great app!
I didn’t think I could enjoy birding more but this app makes it so much better. Some great features and a really great way to share your sightings with your friends or fellow birders nearby or around the world! ❤️
Bryan C
Clean and easy to use
Really enjoying this app, it's clean and easy to use. I love the ease of being able to add those one-off birds without starting a whole checklist. I also like the social aspect, like the parts of my Facebook I like, without the ads and junk, just birds. Can't wait to see it become more populated.
Amylia S
Best app for any birding person!
I love this app!! I am so addicted to it when I saw it had 3 star review I was so sad! The app is awesome!! The best app for any birding person! ❤️
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
© 2024 All rights reserved