A Fairly Rare Visitor - Burchell's Coucal

We have been once again graced by the presence of a fairly rare visitor to our parts, a Burchell's Coucal. It is a large, and funny bird. It hops and bounces around the trees, shrubs and grass, rather than flies, although it is perfectly capable of beautiful flight. He is sharing the garden with the geese, chickens (oops!), koi and other lovelies. I have tried to take photo's of him, but can't get close enough before he jumps and weaves and leaps off like a jester gone mad! So here are some stock photos:

I managed to get some photos, these are taken from inside the house about as far from the grapevine my side, as he is fromt the grapevine on his side, the grapevine is the "frame", not terribly close, but enjoy:

Here's some more info on these characters:

The Burchell's coucal is endemic, being found mainly in South Africa, living in a wide variety of habitats. It is a voracious predator, feeding on small birds, mammals, reptiles and insects. Interestingly, the male does more work than the female, building the nest, incubating the eggs and doing most of the hunting.
The Burchell's Coucal is a bird about the size of a Francolin now called Spurfowl. The height of the Burchell's Coucal is about 41 cms and its weight is about 180 gms

The male and female Burchell's Coucal have the same plumage and colours

  • Head is black.
  • Eye is red.
  • Bill is black.
  • Throat is brown.
  • Back is black.
  • Legs are blue, grey.

This bird has normally proportioned leg length.


A voracious predator, it feeds mainly on small animals, rarely eating fruit. It forages in bushes and trees, often flying down to the ground to catch prey. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Invertebrates
    • snails
    • Orthoptera (crickets, locusts and grasshoppers)
    • mantids
    • Pentatomid bugs (Hemiptera)
    • Coleoptera (beetles)
    • moths (Lepidoptera)
    • centipedes
    • woodlice
    • crabs
  • Birds
    • doves and pigeons
    • sparrows
    • bishops
    • mousebirds
    • barbets
    • warblers
    • white-eyes
    • waxbills
    • domestic chicken
    • eggs
  • Mammals
    • mice, including Rhapdomys pumilio (Striped mouse)
    • mole-rats
  • Reptiles
    • chameleons
    • lizards
    • small snakes
  • Amphibians
    • frogs
    • toads
  • Plant matter
    • Eriobotrya japonica (Loquat) fruit
    • Ziziphus mucronata (Buffalo-thorn)
  • The male builds the nest, which is a large, scruffy collection of grass and leaves, shaped into a deep cup. It is placed 0.5-10m above ground, in a large grass tuft, reedbed, thicket, creeper, bush, hedge or thorny tree.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-March, with slight variations with different regions.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, at 1, less often 2 day intervals.
  • Incubation is done mostly by the male, for 15-16 days.
  • The chicks' feet develop quickly, and they are capable of clambering around bushes long before they can fly. They usually leave the nest at 21 days old, after which they are still dependent on their parents for weeks.
I hope they keep coming to visit, I've only seen them about three times in the last 30 years! X@

CatchCabby CatchCabby
56-60, F
5 Responses Jul 20, 2010

Thanks Crafted, he is a joy to watch, a very different character! X@

Shepherdess, you're welcome, I love the animals and birds that visit me on the farm occassionally. Have you seen the story of the baby buck that I've been raising too. X@

Just found your stories Cabcraft which I enjoy very much. I love learning about different species and how nice of you to share your interesting visitors with us so we can learn too! There's a whole world out there and EP brings it a little closer to me with posts like this. Thank you.

Sharossody and Breezeann, thank you so much for your comments, I just adore the lovely wildlife we have on the farm. We don't see much of it close-up or that often and sightings are precious! Being able to watch and interact at all is wonderful!> i figured that others may be interested in the facts and figures, 'cos I really am. Glad you enjoy them!

wow.. on the average of once every ten years... such a regal looking bird.