Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis
Abuja, Nigeria. July 2008
Coucals are large members of the cuckoo family, with eleven representatives in Africa. The Senegal Coucal Centropus senegalensis ranges right across Africa from the Gambia to northern Sudan, with a separate population spread over a wide area of southern Africa. It’s a bird of grassy habitats with trees, such as bush and savannah (occupying a similar niche to eg Asia’s Lesser Coucal). Sexes are similar, but juveniles are duller and barred above.
The Senegal Coucal takes a wide range of insects, caterpillars and small vertebrates. It occasionally eats other food items.
Most coucals have loud, booming calls, and the Senegal Coucal is no different, advertising its presence with a loud ‘ook-ook-ook’ call that sometimes sounds like someone blowing across the top of a bottle.
Photographs copyright Charlie Moores