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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote®: White-Browed Coucal

Air Date: Week of

The white-browed coucal perches on a twig. (Photo: Francesco Veronesi, CC)

Many cuckoos forgo the demands of parenting by laying their eggs in the nests of other birds. But as BirdNote®’s Michael Stein reports the white-browed coucal, common in many parts of Africa, build their own nests and raise their own young.


BASCOMB: We travel now to Sub Saharan Africa with this week’s birdnote and the white crowned coucal.


White-browed Coucal

[White-browed Coucal “bubbling” call]

This call, likened to the sound of water running out of a bottle, is common in many parts of Africa. It usually comes from a dense thicket—its origin a puzzle—and is most likely to be heard at dawn and dusk. But if you watch long enough, you might be rewarded with a sight of the bird that makes this call. [White-browed Coucal call]

It’s a White-browed Coucal (pronounced coo-kle as in coo, not cookie), a streaky bird with red eyes, red-brown wings, a long black tail, and a white stripe over each eye. “Streaky and sneaky” best describes these birds, as you’ll be lucky to see one. Yet, because their habitat is so dense, dew often dampens their feathers. And when that happens, they hop to the top of a bush and spread their wings and tail to dry in the morning sun.

[White-browed Coucal call]

Coucals are members of the cuckoo family, but instead of laying eggs in the nests of other birds as many cuckoos do, coucals build their own large nest. They lay four eggs and raise their own young.

The white-browed coucal bows its head. (Photo: Harald Olsen, CC)

[White-browed Coucal call]

Support for BirdNote comes from the Cornell Lab’s Bird Academy, with online courses that share the wonder and joy of birds. More at All About Birds dot org.


Written by Dennis Paulson
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Call of the White-crowed Coucal recorded by M.E.W. North.
South African ambient recorded and provided by Martyn Stewart, naturesound.org
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2013 Tune In to Nature.org October 2016/2020 Narrator: Michael Stein

ID# 101507coucalKPLU coucal-01b


BASCOMB: For photos strut on over to the Living on Earth website, loe.org



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