Bali Impressions-Animals in and around your
house or Hotel
Coucals feed on large insects, frogs, lizards, snakes. They hunt these
among the undergrowth, using their powerful bills to catch and kill
Coucals are rather terrestrial, preferring to walk than fly. They emerge
in the open only in the early morning. The rest of the day, they forage
on foot in tall grass. When disturbed, they make a short flight with
shallow wing beats and brief glides into cover. They then scuttle away
on foot. They are strong runners and have straight hind claws and are
sometimes called "lark-heeled cuckoos".
Lesser Coucals are mostly solitary, only rarely seen in pairs. They
specialise in more open grasslands (lallang and other tall grasses) both
dry and marshy, while the Greater Coucals (C. sinensis) are found in
thickets. Breeding: Lesser Coucals have a courtship ritual of offering
each other titbits like a leaf or grasshopper.
Although they are members of the cuckoo family, Lesser Coucals do not
lay their eggs in other birds' nests. They build their own nests. These
are usually well concealed and comprise a large globe (18 x 25cm) made
of twigs or grass (blades and stems) with a large entrance hole to one
side. The nest is sometimes lined with green leaves and grass.
Main features: Medium (38cm); black plumage; wings and back chestnut;
eyes red, bill and feet black.
Juvenile and non-breeding adult: head, neck and mantle brown streaked
with pale buff; rump and upper tail coverts, blackish barred rufous;
tail dark brown glossed with green; underparts buffy with paler streaks.
Call: Described as a series of mellow whoops; 3-4 hiccups followed by
knocking rattles; sharp 3-note call that sounds like got-to-go; or
boot-boot-boot, like their Malay name.
In flight: Low, rapid shallow flapping with long spurts of gliding,
seldom raising their wings above the horizontal.
Similar birds: Greater Coucal (C. sinensis): The Lesser is smaller,
somewhat paler and has chestnut wing-linings, while the Greater has
black wing-linings. Unlike the Greater, when in the breeding the Lesser
has pale buff streaking on nape and upper back and appears more streaky
and scruffy because the Lesser has very glossy head feather shafts which
reflect the light and make them appear almost white. World distribution:
India to East Indonesia. Classification: Family Centropodidae. World 30
species, Singapore 2 species. Order Cuculiformes (Cuckoos).
They build in open grasslands, close to the ground, incorporating tall
grass stems into the nest. Less frequently, low in bushes or trees.
2-3 white eggs are laid in December-July. Hatchlings are black skinned
with long bristly down. Like other Coucals, when disturbed, the chicks
squirt out copious amounts of foul-smelling liquid faeces.
The Coucals have the head and bill of a crow, but long tail feathers of
a pheasant. In fact, in the past, they were known as crow-pheasants.
Status and threats:
Lesser Coucals have adapted well to open grasslands and secondary
growths that result from human interference. They are often the first to colonise a new patch of lallang and other wastelands.