Crow Pheasant

Conservation status

Least Concern

Population Trend


Alternate Names

Greater Coucal, Southern Coucal

Native Habitat



Insects, Bird eggs


Crow Pheasant

Centropus sinensis

The Crow Pheasant is a large non-parasitic member of the cuckoo order of birds. A widespread resident in Asia, from India, east to south China and Indonesia. They are large, crow-like with a long tail and coppery brown wings and found in wide range of habitats from jungle to cultivation and urban gardens. They are weak fliers, and are often seen clambering about in vegetation or walking on the ground as they forage for insects, eggs and nestlings of other birds. They have a familiar deep resonant call which is associated with omens in many parts of its range.

This is a large species of cuckoo at 50 cm. The head is black, upper mantle and underside are black glossed with purple. The back and wings are chestnut brown. There are no pale shaft streaks on the coverts. The eyes are ruby red. Juveniles are duller black with spots on the crown and there are whitish bars on the underside and tail. The race of the Assam and Bangladesh region is smaller than the race found in the sub-Himalayan zone. Songs of the races are said to vary considerably. Race of southern India has a black head and the underparts glossed blue and has the forehead, face and throat more brownish. The male and female are similar in plumage but females are slightly larger.

The Crow Pheasant is a large bird which takes a wide range of insects, caterpillars and small vertebrates even snakes. They are also known to eat bird eggs, nestlings, fruits and seeds.

They sunbathe in the mornings singly OR in pairs on the top of vegetation with their wings spread out. They are most active in the warm hours of the morning and in the late afternoon.

Regional Names
  • Bengali:
    বড় কুবো
  • Gujarati:
    કૂકડિયો કુંભાર
  • Hindi:
    महोख, महोक कूक
  • Kannada:
  • Malayalam:
  • Marathi:
    भारद्वाज, सोनकावळा, कुक्कुटकुंभा, कुंभारकावळा, सुलक्षणी, नपिता, चमारकुकडी, कुंभार्‍या (आदिवासी भाग)
  • Nepali:
    ढोडे गोकुल
  • Oriya:
  • Punjabi:
    ਕਮਾਦੀ ਕੁੱਕੜ
  • Sanskrit:
  • Tamil:
    செம்போத்து, செம்பகம்
  • Telugu:
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Centropus sinensis

Quick Facts
  • These are associated with many superstitions and beliefs. Sighting one is considered to be auspicious.
  • In 2017, it is declared as a City bird by Sawantwadi, Maharashtra. Interestingly, the elections were carried out where people of Sawantwadi voted more for this bird than Malabar Trogon.