White-browed Coucals

The White-browed Coucals (Centropus superciliosus) is a species of cuckoo that is found in sub-Saharan Africa – its range stretches from South of the Congo forests, through southwest to north-eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), then through South Sudan, Ethiopia and West Somalia. In Kenya, it is the most common of the coucals – although it is less common or absent from the more arid regions.

The southern subspecies is sometimes split as Burchell’s Coucal, Centropus burchelli.

Calls / Vocalizations

According to popular Southern African lore, this species’ distinctive call, which resembles water pouring from a bottle, is said to signal impending rainfall, earning the bird the name “Rainbird.”


It is about 16″ or 410mm in long and has a striking plumage, with a broad, yellowish-white supercilliary stripe, which is a unique feature amongst other coucals within its range.

Its habit of skulking in shubbery, undergrowth and dense waterside vegetation makes it difficult to spot.

Diet / Feeding

It has a wide diet consisting mostly of insects, but it will also take young birds and eggs.

Breeding / Nesting

The White-browed Coucal is non-parasitic (they raise their own young). The males construct a nest, they then incubate the eggs and provide most of the feeding and care for the young.

White-browed Coucal (Centropus superciliosus)
White-browed Coucal (Centropus superciliosus)
White-browed Coucal (Centropus superciliosus)
White-browed Coucal (Centropus superciliosus)
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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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