Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Black-throated Coucal (Centropus leucogaster)


French: Coucal à ventre blanc German: Weißbauchkuckuck Spanish: Cucal ventriblanco

Polophilus leucogaster


, 1814,

New Holland; error = Ghana


Range complementary to that of C. anselli, suggesting that the two may be sister-species, a possibility supported by mtDNA data#R. Race neumanni has been considered to be more closely related to C. anselli. Further, neumanni has been proposed as a distinct species#R, on basis mainly of size, but size overlap occurs and, moreover, size differences are greatly exaggerated in illustration in HBW (in fact, neumanni is only 1 cm less in wing and 2 cm less in tail than nominate#R); such treatment appears inappropriate, at least on present evidence#R. Race from Cameroon and Gabon sometimes misspelt efulensis (e.g. in HBW), but correct original spelling is efulenensis#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. l. leucogaster (Leach, 1814) – Black-throated Coucal – S Senegal and Guinea-Bissau E to SE Nigeria.
  • C. l. efulenensis Sharpe, 1904 – SW Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and N Gabon.
  • C. l. neumanni Alexander, 1908 – Neumann's Coucal – NE DRCongo; recorded once in extreme W Uganda (Semliki National Park#R).
  • Descriptive notes

    46–58 cm; male 293 g, female 336 g. One of largest of African coucals. Adult black above and from head to breast; back barred buff, tail glossed blue, wings rufous-... read more


    Song deep, bubbling, 10–20 notes slowing in tempo and falling in pitch, middle notes well... read more


    Dense undergrowth in forest edge, forest remnants, secondary forest, thickets, dense grass,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including caterpillars, spiders, beetles, grasshoppers; also snails and frogs. Feeds on or near ground.


    Breeds Dec in Sierra Leone, Nov in Liberia, Aug in Ghana, Jun–Nov in Cameroon, Mar–Dec in Uelle region of N Zaire. Nest a large... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common in forests of lower Casamance in S Senegal; common in forest habitat in Nigeria, though rarely seen because of its skulking habits; in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2020). Black-throated Coucal (Centropus leucogaster). 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 30 March 2020).