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Centropus superciliosus (White-browed coucal) 

Gestreepte vleiloerie [Afrikaans]; Wenkbrauwspoorkoekoek [Dutch]; Coucal à sourcils blancs [French]; Weißbrauen-spornkuckuck [German]

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 superciliosus (White-browed coucal)  Centropus superciliosus (White-browed coucal) 

White-browed coucal, Ethiopia. [photo Kristian Svensson ©]

White-browed coucal, Mahango Game Reserve, Namibia [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

The White-browed coucal is fairly common in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique, living in thick vegetation. It feeds on a wide a wide variety of animals, such as mammals, birds and insects. The nest is large sphere with a side entrance, made of grass blades or stems. It lays 3-5 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes, for 14-16 days. For the first three days of their life, the chicks are brooded by one parent, and fed by the other, after which both the parents do the hunting. The brood leave the nest at 18-20 days old, the fledgling period has not been studied.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Ethiopia south through Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania to southern DRC, Angola, Zambia and southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is fairly common in northern Namibia, northern and south-eastern Botswana, the exterior of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern and southern South Africa. It generally prefers reedbeds, seasonal pans and thickets with dense grass near water.

Distribution of White-browed 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.  


Feeds on a wide variety of animals, including insects, small mammals and birds. It does most of its foraging in thick vegetation, sometimes flying down to the ground to pick up a prey item. It may also catch animals flying from a bushfire. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Invertebrates
  • Vertebrates
    • small birds up to the size of doves,
    • mice
    • reptiles
      • snakes
      • lizards
    • tree frogs


  • The nest is a large, untidy sphere-shaped structure, with a side entrance and entrance ramp. It is built of grass blades and stems and lined with leaves and roots, typically placed 0.5-10m above ground in reeds, a bush or a tree.
  • Egg-laying season is normally from September-March.
  • It lays 3-5 eggs, which are incubated mainly by the male for 14-16 days.
  • For the first three days of their lives, the chicks are brooded by one parent and fed by the other, after which both the parents do the hunting. The brood leave the nest at about 18-20 days old.


Not threatened.


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