Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Ivory-billed Coucal (Centropus menbeki)


French: Coucal mênebiki German: Mohrenkuckuck Spanish: Cucal menebiki
Other common names: Greater Black Coucal

Centropus Menbeki

Lesson and Garnot

, 1828,

New Guinea = Manokwari


Original spelling of specific name is menbeki, although listed by the same describers in 1829 as “menebiki” (based on a local Papuan word)#R. Probably closest to C. chalybeus#R. Previously thought closest to C. goliath and C. violaceus. Race jobiensis often included in nominate#R#R#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. menbeki Lesson & Garnot, 1828 – W Papuan Is and New Guinea, including Numfor I (in Geelvink Bay).
  • C. m. jobiensis Stresemann & Paludan, 1932 – Yapen I (Geelvink Bay).
  • C. m. aruensis (Salvadori, 1878) – Aru Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    60–67 cm; race jobiensis male 480 g and female 553 g, race menbeki male 293 g. Adult huge, glossy black, with long tail, iris red, bill whitish with... read more


    Low-pitched, resonant booming hoots in staccato; single-note “oodle”, also pairs of... read more


    Forest, forest edge, shrub and lower middle storeys. Sea-level to 800 m.

    Food and feeding

    Small vertebrates (snakes, frogs, small birds), arthropods, large insects (grasshoppers, cicadas, caterpillars). Feeds on ground, where... read more


    Oviduct egg in Apr; recently fledged young Jan, Oct. Nest a large mass of leaves, in pandanus, in wet season. Oviduct egg white; 37 x 30 mm. read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. A widely distributed species in New Guinea, but apparently uncommon throughout. Approximate density estimated at 1 bird/10 ha.

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2019). Ivory-billed Coucal (Centropus menbeki). 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 14 December 2019).