Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Black-billed Coucal (Centropus bernsteini)


French: Coucal de Bernstein German: Bernsteinkuckuck Spanish: Cucal de Bernstein
Other common names: Lesser Black Coucal

Centropus Bernsteini


, 1866,

New Guinea


Appears to be part of a clade which includes also C. violaceus and C. phasianinus#R. Previously thought to be closest to C. chalybeus, C. phasianinus and C. spilopterus. Race manam sometimes considered invalid, but here retained until further evidence available. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. b. bernsteini Schlegel, 1866 – W & C New Guinea E to Simbang and the Sattelberg.
  • C. b. manam Mayr, 1937 – Manam I (off NE New Guinea).
  • Descriptive notes

    46–52 cm; male 140 g, female 180 g. Adult black, glossed green above, iris dark brown, bill black. Juvenile barred rufous above, wings and tail narrowly barred buff to... read more


    Three hoots, “woop woop woop”, on descending scale, sometimes in longer series; pairs... read more


    Scrub, tall cane grass, rank vegetation. Sea-level to 500 m, rarely to 900 m.

    Food and feeding



    Nest a domed mass of cane grass, with side opening, placed in grass. Eggs 2, white; 32 x 26 mm.



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. This coucal is not uncommon in second growth and cane grass, but is shy and difficult to observe. Poorly known in all aspects; research required.

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2020). Black-billed Coucal (Centropus bernsteini). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2020).