Short-toed Coucal Centropus rectunguis


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it is restricted to low-lying forest in a region where this habitat type is being cleared and degraded at such a rate that rapid and continuing population declines are likely.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals. This equates to 15,000-29,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 15,000-30,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Intense logging pressure has led to rapid rates of lowland deforestation across the Sundaic region. As an apparent lowland forest specialist, this species is suspected to be declining rapidly as a result.

Distribution and population

Centropus rectunguis occurs from extreme southern Thailand, through Peninsular Malaysia to Malaysian Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak), Brunei and Indonesia (Kalimantan and Sumatra) (BirdLife International 2001). It appears to be rare in Thailand and Sumatra, but apparently locally fairly common in Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo. In Sabah, Borneo the species was found at similar abundance in unlogged and in once- or twice-logged forest (Edwards et al. 2010). 


It appears to be generally restricted to the undergrowth of lowland evergreen forest, where it occurs at low population densities.


This species is suspected to be in moderately rapid to rapid decline from habitat loss. Rates of forest loss in the Sundaic lowlands have been exceptionally high (Kalimantan lost nearly 25% of its evergreen forest during 1985-1997, and Sumatra lost almost 30% of its 1985 cover), because of a variety of factors, including the escalation of logging and land conversion for agriculture and housing development, with deliberate targeting of all remaining stands of valuable timber including those inside protected areas. Furthermore, the major fires of 1997-1998 affected 50,000 km2 of forest on Sumatra and Borneo.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Populations of this species are reported from several protected areas within its range, including Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary (Thailand), Taman Negara (Malaysia), Similajau National Park (Sarawak) and Gunung Palung National Park (Kalimantan).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys by listening for its call to investigate its altitudinal distribution, ecological requirements and the levels of threat it faces and thereby determine whether any specific conservation measures are required. Provide adequate support for the conservation of relevant lowland protected areas. Lobby for reduced logging of lowland forest in the Sundaic region.


43 cm. Medium-large, forest-dwelling coucal. Predominantly black, glossed purplish blue, with chestnut wings and mantle. Iris red, bill and legs black. Similar spp. Greater Coucal C. sinensis is larger, with proportionately longer tail, black plumage slightly less violet glossed. Voice Ponderous descending sequence of around five deep buup notes, like call of C. sinensis but deeper, slower, more resonant. Hints Search undergrowth of deep forest.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Taylor, J., Tobias, J., Martin, R

Edwards, D., Robson, C.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Centropus rectunguis. Downloaded from on 27/10/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2020.