Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Greater Coucal

A Greater Coucal (Common Coucal) photographed in Colombo
A Greater Coucal (Common Coucal) photographed in Colombo

The Greater Coucal, also known as the Common Coucal or the Crow Pheasant is a wide spread resident of southern Asia ranging from India to Southern China and Indonesia. Surprisingly, they are weak fliers and are usually seen clambering through vegetation. These birds are common in Sri Lanka and are distributed in varying habitats which range from gardens to degraded forests. More images and info inside.

A Greater Coucal (Common Coucal) photographed in Colombo
A Greater Coucal (Common Coucal) photographed in Colombo

This bird is large in size and has been recorded at around 48cm in length. Juveniles are similar to the adult birds but have spots on the crown and whitish bars on the underside of the tail. The young, when hatched, have black skin and white hairy feathers which form a fringe over the eye and beak. Sexes are similar in appearance. 

The Greater Coucal feeds on insects, caterpillars, birds eggs, snails, nestlings and small vertebrates. They are most active during the warmer hours of the morning and late in the afternoon.

A Greater Coucal (Common Coucal) photographed in Colombo
A Greater Coucal (Common Coucal) photographed in Colombo

The breeding season is after the monsoon in southern India but can vary in other parts of the range. The Greater Coucal is monogamous and their courtship displays include chases on the ground and the male bringing food gifts for the female. Nests are built mostly by the male in 3 - 8 days. A Typical clutch consists of 3-5 chalky white eggs. 

In British India the Greater Coucal was often mistaken for a Pheasant and shot. It was found to be "evil flavoured" and earned it the name "Griff's Pheasant".

These images were captured in our garden in Colombo. I was using the Canon 7D and the 100-400mm lens at the time. 

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