For days now I have been hearing this bird in our garden, but just could never catch sight of it. My bird guide* says that it is “easily overlooked as it keeps to dense vegetation“. Because of the good rains we’ve had since November last year, and the fact that our gardener has not been able to work regularly, our garden is now starting to resemble a jungle. So it must feel right at home!
The bird I’m talking about is the Burchell’s Coucal (Centropus burchelli), a sub-species of the White-browed Coucal. Click on the links for more information. In my bird guide* it says “As the wings are short and rounded, they are poor fliers and usually creep about in dense vegetation. Shy and secretive and thus easily overlooked.” Personally, I think it doesn’t creep so much, as do this awkward looking hop. But it is the Burchell’s Coucal’s call which is fairly unusual. It sounds like “a liquid bubbling series of notes, first descending and then rising in pitch, sounding like water poured from a bottle with a narrow neck“*.
This morning suddenly, there it was in front of me. The photographs below are not mine. I was trying to decide whether to stay in the garden and watch the bird or run for a camera. I decided to stay and watch. So these photographs are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. You can click on the photographs to link to the original Wikimedia Commons page and enlarge them. There is also a short YouTube video so you can listen to the sound it makes.
[*”The Bird Guide of Southern Africa” by Ulrich Oberprieler and Burger Cillié]