Lee Richardson Zoo

Crested Coua

Order:  Cuculiformes - cuckoos, roadrunners, coucals

Family:  Cuculidae - cuckoos

Scientific Name:  Coua cristata


Description: The Crested Coua is a medium-sized bird measuring approximately 18 to 24 inches in length. Their plumage is a greenish-grey with a grey crest. Like all other couas, they have blue bare skin patches around their eyes. The chest is rufous-colored (reddish-brown), the abdomen is white, and the long purplish-blue tail feathers are tipped with white. They have brown eyes and black legs and bill. Since they are not strong fliers you will not see these birds flying long distances. They mainly utilize their wings to fly from the ground into the trees. As they walk along tree limbs, these agile walking birds use their long tail for balance. Their third toe can be reversed to point backward, giving them a good grip on a branch, making it nearly impossible for them to be knocked off.

Home Range:   Madagascar


Habitat Type:   Forests, savannas, brushland areas


Reproduction:   The female Crested Coua builds the nest out of twigs and takes care to build the nest well hidden in trees or bushes. A clutch usually consists of 2-3 white-colored eggs and both parents take turns incubating their eggs. Both parents also feed their young, which are born blind and nearly featherless.


Diet in the Wild:   Their diet consists mainly of various insects, fruits, berries, seeds, small reptiles and snails


Diet in the Zoo:   base bird mix, mealworms, bird of prey meat diet


General Information:   Crested Coua chicks make the feeding job a little easier for their parents: There are two bright red and white markings on the inside of the chick's mouth that look just like bull's-eyes. These markings show the parents where to put the food.


Conservation Status:   This species has a very large range and even though the population appears to be decreasing, due to habitat loss and degradation and hunting pressure, it is not even close to reaching the Vulnerable category under the population criterion. For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.




"Coua." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. Johnson, Sibylle. “Crested Couas.” Beauty Of Birds. Beauty Of Birds, 2011. Web 22 Aug. 2016. Butchart, S., J. Ekstrom, A. Symes, and J. Taylor. “Species.” Crested Coua (Coua cristata). Birdlife, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. "Crested Coua." Kids San Diego Zoo. San Diego Zoo Global, 2016. Web. 31 Aug. 2016. "IUCN Redlist Organization." Coua Cristata (Crested Coua). International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.