Courol

Leptosomus discolor TAXONOMY

Cuculus discolor Hermann, 1783, Madagascar. Three subspecies.

Leptosomus discolor I Resident

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Cuckoo-roller; French: Courol; German: Kurol; Spanish: Carraca Curol.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

20 in (50 cm); 0.48-0.53 lb (219-240 g). The courol or cuckoo roller is a large bird characterized by a massive head with a stout bill; long, slightly rounded wings; a moderately long, broad tail; and very short legs. Back and wings grayish black, strongly glossed with metallic green and mauve-red, underparts ash gray, and crown to nape black (male). In the adult female and young, upperparts are dark brown, barred black and rufous on the crown; underparts are pale rufous, boldly spotted with black.

DISTRIBUTION

Madagascar and Comoro Islands. HABITAT

Forest and woodlands, especially at margins. Up to about 6,400 ft (2,000 m), the courol is widely dispersed in forests and wooded areas of Madagascar, being encountered more frequently at or near forest margins, where a preference is shown for large evergreen trees with leafy crowns. On the Comoro Islands, there seems to be a wider habitat tolerance, with the birds less dependent on tall trees.

BEHAVIOR

Arboreal; singly or pairs when breeding, groups at other times. Noisy, conspicuous in flight, inconspicuous at rest in leafy tree-tops. During the breeding season, courols seem to be highly territorial and usually are encountered singly or in pairs, but at other times are seen in groups of a dozen or more, often with males outnumbering females. When silently feeding or resting amid inner branches of leafy trees, they can escape detection, but in the air they are noisy and conspicuous, the peculiarly undulating flight accompanied by loud, whistling call notes.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Large insects and small reptiles, mainly chameleons, captured amid foliage and struck repeatedly against branch before swallowing.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous; breeds October-January; 2-4 white eggs laid in tree hollow; incubation by female probably 20 days; chicks fed by both parents, fledging at 30 days. Breeding by courols also takes place during summer monsoon season, when a clutch of up to four white eggs is laid in a hollow limb or tree hole, and incubation by the female lasts at least 20 days. Newly hatched chicks are down covered.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened, widespread and common.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Largely untouched, but sometimes killed to make love potions. ♦

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