Coucal share the same family  with the Cuckoos, traced from the sub family of Centropodinae and the genus Centropus. They are different from the Old World Cuckoo who are brood parasites. In fact, in contrary with the habits of the Cuckoo, the Coucal have their sex role reversed.  The male provide most of the parental care.

Within the group are a wide array of birds which have lots of common looks yet also with great differences in colors. This is a short list of "other" birds of this group and those found in Malaysia are:-

17 species of Cuckoos

6 species of Malkohas

1 Asian Koel

3 species of Coucals

World wide there are 30 species of Coucal and 4 of them are found in South-east Asia. In Malaysia, we get to see 3 types.

Another unique point about Coucal is its looks. The bird have the head and bill like that of a crow, then the long tail feathers of a pheasant. In earlier days until now, many people has named the bird as a Crow-Pheasant. It is a bulky bird, glossy black in color, very obvious Chestnut wings followed by a long and broad black tail.

Both male and female look alike. They are ground birds that prefer tall grasses or low shrubs. Like Junglefowl, Coucal would rather walk and only flies to get away from danger. Found singly most of the time, their food consist of large insects, caterpillars, snails and lizards. Breeding season is February - September.


  1. Greater Coucal  
  2. Lesser Coucal  
  3. Short-toed Coucal  


Coucals are very common birds in the country and almost present when there are wooded patches of forest. But it is not easy to spot or stalk them as they are are aware of our presence while we still do not detect theirs. So they make it their strategy to remain out of sight. Only way to get pictures of them - is through chance meetings.

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