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Centropus senegalensis (Senegal coucal) 

Senegalvleiloerie [Afrikaans]; Mukuku (generic term for cuckoos and coucals) [Kwangali]; Murenda [Shona]; Senegalese spoorkoekoek [Dutch]; Coucal du Sénégal [French]; Senegal-spornkuckuck [German]; Cucal do Senegal [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora >Aves (birds) > Order: Cuculiformes > Family: Centropidae

Centropus senegalensis (Senegal coucal)   

Senegal coucal with a cricket, Gambia. [photo Martin Goodey ©]


Distribution and habitat

It has three separate populations in Africa; one in Egypt, another in the area from Senegal to Ethiopia south to northern DRC, and finally one in Tanzania, Zambia, south-eastern Angola and southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is generally uncommon in north-eastern Namibia, northern and eastern Botswana, Zimbabwe and central Mozambique. It generally prefers scrub and thickets along or near watercourses, secondary forest regrowth, the border between woodland and grassland as all man-modified habitats with dense cover, such as fallow lands, sugar cane fields, parks and gardens.

Distribution of Senegal coucal in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Resident and sedentary.


Mainly eats invertebrates, reptiles and bird chicks, doing most of its foraging by searching the vegetation and occasionally descending to the ground. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Probably monogamous and territorial.
  • The nest is likely built solely by the female, consisting of a loosely-built dome with a side entrance, made of grass and twigs and lined with green leaves. It is typically placed in a tangled clump of creepers in a bush or tree.
  • Egg-laying season is from October-March, peaking from November-January.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated solely by the male for about 17-19 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both sexes, leaving the nest after approximately 18-20 days.


Not threatened, as although thicket clearance has affected it negatively, it has somewhat benefited from the modification of habitats by humans.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.