Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Crested Coua (Coua cristata)


French: Coua huppé German: Schopfseidenkuckuck Spanish: Cúa crestado

Cuculus cristatus


, 1766,



Possibly part of a clade which includes also C. verreauxi and C. caerulea#R#R. Hitherto considered conspecific with C. pyropyga. Subspecies maxima known from a single specimen, being “notably larger and with plumage strikingly different” (throat cold bluish-grey vs grey, breast dark tawny-brown vs purplish-grey, lower breast to belly tawny-brown vs whitish; back greyish-blue vs greenish-grey; innermost secondaries blue vs green; uppertail intense violet-blue vs subdued green-tinged blue) such that it “probably merits treatment as a distinct species”; indeed, with separation of C. pyropyga, which isolates maxima from remaining forms of cristata, recognition of maxima as a species appears compelling, but possibility raised that it represents a hybrid with C. caerulea or C. reynaudii#R (latter patently unlikely owing to smaller size of reynaudii, but former conceivable given larger size and blue coloration), although likelihood reduced by report of birds similar to maxima being seen at time and site of collection of type#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. cristata (Linnaeus, 1766) – N & E Madagascar (SW to Mahajanga).
  • C. c. dumonti Delacour, 1931 – W Madagascar from Mahajanga S to Morondava.
  • C. c. maxima Milon, 1950 – SE Madagascar (near Tolagnaro).
  • Descriptive notes

    40–44 cm; 103–105 g (dumonti). Adult green-grey above, head crested, grey, long tail purplish blue, tipped white; throat grey, breast purplish to rufous... read more


    Wide range of vocalizations and generally very vocal: commonest is a low double “kokok... read more


    Primary and secondary forest (mainly littoral and deciduous formations, being decidedly uncommon in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Large insects (caterpillars, crickets, mantises, grasshoppers, leaf insects, beetles, cicadas), also snails, geckos, chameleons, and... read more


    Season overall at least mid Sept–mid Mar, with little evidence of synchronicity and perhaps even more protracted in race dumonti... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread, and locally common, persisting in degraded forests, despite considerable hunting pressure locally, e.g. Beza Mahafaly, Mikea Forest and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Crested Coua (Coua cristata). 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 10 December 2019).