Greater Coucal – call details

on 31st December 2021

I often hear the advertising calls of the Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis bubutus) in the early mornings 7-9am and occasionally duets (responsive calls) with a partner. Some details/comments about their calls.

The above image shows the posture of birds when they are making the calls. They usually lean a little forward with the head slightly bent and the neck/throat feathers quite distended. The beak is closed during calls. Occasionally I see them pointing the beak skywards (have an image).


The above sonogram/waveform has, what I consider, the more classical or common advertising calls that are made with no response from a partner but may have a distant response from a ‘rival’ male (presumed). The calls are made in a cluster of 6 notes (Well 1999 says 3-4 notes, but I suspect the first note is easy to miss unless you see it on a sonogram/waveform). These calls are spaced intermittently but often 6-7 seconds apart (sample of 10 calls: 12, 9, 14, 6, 7, 6, 7, 7, 9, 6 sec apart). A sonogram/waveform also shows that the calls are made in a crescendo – decrescendo scale. Wells (1999) describes the notes made as “bup”, while HBW 2018 terms them as “hoop”. Although the edited recording of the calls (see Sound Cloud link appears to be loud (directional mike used), in the field these are very low intensity calls as can be seen from the sonogram (sound frequency not exceeding 4 kHz).

The above is a sonogram/waveform of the less often heard duets or responsive calls with a partner. For this recording, both partners looked like mature adults, there was no physical contact and they were both high at the crown of a Rain Tree (Albizia saman) about 3-4 meters apart. The calls made are similar, low frequency calls but can go on for 10-12 seconds, comprise 15-30 notes and ‘rise and fall’ in volume. The two bird/partner’s calls can merge together (synchronise) as one at times (edited recording of the calls in Sound Cloud link:

The above is an image of the second bird calling, the partner.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)

Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia


Location: Fringe of Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Semi-urban environment

Date: 12 &17th December 2018

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld, Rode VideoMic Pro



If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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