Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Senegal Coucal (Centropus senegalensis)


French: Coucal du Sénégal German: Spornkuckuck Spanish: Cucal senegalés
Other common names: Rufous-bellied Coucal (“epomidis”)

Cuculus senegalensis


, 1766,



Thought to be part of a clade with C. monachus, C. cupreicaudus and C. superciliosus#R. Darker rufous form of coastal Nigeria and Ghana sometimes treated as race epomidis, or even as a separate species, but interbreeds freely with white-bellied form of nominate senegalensis, and is now regarded as a colour morph of latter. Proposed race incertus (NW Kenya) synonymized with nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. aegyptius (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – Egypt from R Nile S to El Minya.
  • C. s. senegalensis Linnaeus, 1766 – Senegal and Gambia E to Uganda, W Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, and S to NW Angola, SC DRCongo and L Victoria.
  • C. s. flecki Reichenow, 1893 – E Angola, NE Namibia and N Botswana E through S DRCongo (Shaba), Zambia and Zimbabwe to Malawi and SW Tanzania.
  • Descriptive notes

    36–42 cm; male 169 g, female 171 g. Black glossed green above, from forehead to mantle; back and wings rusty-brown, rump unbarred black, tail blackish with green gloss... read more


    Deep tooting notes, falling in pitch then rising at end, in “water-bottle” call like... read more


    Coarse grass, thickets in woodland, edge of reedbeds, dense riverine bush, scrub, sugarcane... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects (grasshoppers, caterpillars, termites, beetles, bugs), frogs, small rodents, reptiles, birds, bird eggs and nestlings, snails.... read more


    Breeds during rains, while grass is pliant and high enough to provide nest material and cover: Mar–Aug in Egypt, May–Oct in N... read more


    Resident in most of its range; locally migratory in more arid areas, as in N Mali and C Sudan (W... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in much of its sizeable range, e.g. abundant throughout Sierra Leone except in high forest. Has expanded its range from beginning of 20th... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2020). Senegal Coucal (Centropus senegalensis). 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 20 February 2020).