Greater coucal Centropus sinensis, photographed by Michael van der Linde.

Belongs within: Cuculidae.

Centropus includes the coucals, medium-sized to large, mostly terrestrial cuckoos found in the Old World tropics. Coucals build bulky domed nests on or near the ground, and the males often provide the majority of parental care.

Characters (from Austin 1961): Mostly dark; 12 to 30 inches in length; feathering stiff and sparse on head, neck and breast. Bill stout, down-curved; wings short, rounded; tail long, rounded; legs long, heavy; hind toe with long, sharp, straight claw, as long as or longer than the toe itself.

<==Centropus Illiger 1811 (see below for synonymy) B94
    |  i. s.: C. andamanensis JT12
    |         C. madagascariensis [incl. C. lafresnayi, C. tolu] S66
    |         C. mechowi JT12
    |         C. nigricans RN72
    |         C. rufipennis B66
    |         C. spilopterus JT12
    |--+--C. milo JT12
    |  `--+--C. ateralbus JT12
    |     `--+--C. chalybeus JT12
    |        `--C. menbeki JT12
    `--+--+--C. melanops JT12
       |  `--+--C. rectunguis JT12
       |     `--C. steerii JT12
       `--+--+--C. chlororhynchus JT12
          |  `--C. unirufus JT12
          `--+--C. celebensis JT12
             `--+--+--+--C. anselli JT12
                |  |  `--C. leucogaster JT12
                |  |       |--C. l. leucogaster RN72
                |  |       |--C. l. efulenensis RN72
                |  |       `--C. l. neumanni RN72
                |  `--+--C. senegalensis JT12
                |     |    |--C. s. senegalensis RN72
                |     |    |--C. s. aegyptis RN72
                |     |    |--C. s. flecki RN72
                |     |    `--C. s. incertus RN72
                |     `--+--C. monachus Rüppell 1837 JT12, S05
                |        |    |--C. m. monachus RN72
                |        |    `--C. m. occidentalis RN72
                |        `--+--C. cupreicaudus JT12
                |           `--C. superciliosus JT12
                |                |--C. s. superciliosus RN72
                |                |--C. s. burchellii RN72
                |                |--C. s. loandae RN72
                |                `--C. s. sokotrae RN72
                `--+--+--C. nigrorufus JT12
                   |  `--C. sinensis JT12
                   `--+--+--C. grillii JT12
                      |  |    |--C. g. grillii RN72
                      |  |    |--C. g. caeruleiceps RN72
                      |  |    `--C. g. wahlbergi RN72
                      |  `--+--C. bengalensis JT12
                      |     |    |--C. b. bengalensis RN72
                      |     |    |--C. b. javanensis RN72
                      |     |    |--C. b. lignator RN72
                      |     |    |--C. b. medius RN72
                      |     |    `--C. b. sarasinorum RN72
                      |     `--C. viridis JT12
                      `--+--C. toulou JT12
                         `--+--C. goliath JT12
                            `--+--C. violaceus JT12
                               `--+--C. bernsteini JT12
                                  |    |--C. b. bernsteini RN72
                                  |    `--C. b. manam RN72
                                  `--C. phasianinus (Latham 1801) JT12, WS48 [=Cuculus phasianinus WS48]
                                       |--C. p. phasianinus WS48(see below for synonymy)
                                       `--C. p. thierfelderi M03

Centropus Illiger 1811 [incl. Nisus Möhring 1752 (pre-Linnean) non Lacépède 1799, Polophilus Leach 1814; Centropodidae, Centropodinae] B94

Centropus phasianinus phasianinus (Latham 1801) WS48 [incl. Polophilus phasianinus highami Mathews 1922 WS48, C. phasianinus highami M03, C. melanurus Gould 1847 WS48, C. phasianinus melanurus M03]

*Type species of generic name indicated


Austin, O. L., Jr. 1961. Birds of the World: A survey of the twenty-seven orders and one hundred and fifty-five families. Paul Hamlyn: London.

[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1-281.

[B66] Bulger, G. E. 1866. List of birds observed at Wellington, Neilgherry Hills, about 6000 feet above the level of the sea, during the months of April and May, 1866. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 568-571.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444-448.

[M03] Morcombe, M. 2003. Field Guide to Australian Birds, 2nd ed. Steve Parish Publishing.

[RN72] Rutgers, A., & K. A. Norris (eds.) 1972. Encyclopaedia of Aviculture vol. 2. Blandford Press: London.

[S66] Schlegel, H. 1866. Communication from, on mammals and birds collected in Madagascar. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 419-426.

[S05] Steinheimer, F. D. 2005. Eduard Rüppel’s avian types at the Natural History Museum, Tring (Aves). Senckenbergiana Biologica 85 (2): 233-264.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M. & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1-126.

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