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Calling the Rainbird

Calling the Rainbird
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2006-10-21
Categories: Birds, Savannah
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 170-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO Ultra DG, Digital ISO 100, UV 86mm Kenko
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/320 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger National Park - 2006
Theme(s): _Fotos adicionadas por 5 ou mais membros II, Wildlife of Africa, Birds of Africa, A study in Ornithology (birds) 1, 80-89 Points I, annick vanderschelden's favourites, Kruger National Park 2, Birds of South Africa 2, 5 favs. and up - PART 4, Dedications at Trek Nature part Four, My Dedications ;o) [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-06-01 18:33
Viewed: 11794
Favorites: 5 [view]
Points: 88
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Burchell's coucal - Centropus burchelli

This posting is dedicated to our friend Smitha Komath (smitha) and her lovely two daughters Renu & Meera from Kerala, India. The behaviour of this bird somehow reminded me of Smitha while she might be prowling or creeping about the shrub or undergrowth of the thickets and undergrowth in the Thattekkad or Bhoothathankettu bush trying to find one of those lovely birds to capture and share with us. Just to say thanks for the unselfish and undemanding friendship you have shown towards me over a good period of time.

This coucal is not uncommon by any means; in fact I see one pretty often as I have a resident summer visitor in my garden every year. But up to the stage when I captured this photo I never had any good opportunity to get a decent shot of one. The problem is because it tends to be rather shy and normally when you see it, it would be sitting in the denser area of a tree or a shrub. It means that any photo of it would usually be very busy with branches and twigs either in the way or just generally making the photo appears very busy. In fact, in the wild it sometimes prove to be a difficult bird to see and photograph since it's habit of lurking in the shrubbery, undergrowth or dense waterside vegetation means that it is heard more often than it is seen. So, you can imagine my excitement when I found this guy sitting on an ant mount and he apparently had no rush at all to skedaddle to the nearest tree or to get lost between the vegetation.

This was photographed at the turnoff towards the Klopperfontein dam (S61) on the H1-8, almost halfway between Punda Maria and Pafuri in the very northern region of the Kruger National Park. The call of these birds is one of the typical sounds of the African bush, especially near rivers or bodies of water. Normally one would hear them long before you would see them as their telltale call is a sure giveaway of their presence. Personally I really believe that there are few other sounds in the wild that beats the beauty of their call. It is such a peaceful, calming, and pure sound. I was so hoping to be able to find a site that had a sample of the Coucal's call and I am so happy to direct you to the "Classic Calls of Africa" web page.

Taxonomic Classification

: Animalia (animals)
SUBPHYLUM: Vertebrata (fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, & mammals)
CLASS: Aves (birds)
ORDER: Cuculiformes (near passerine birds)
FAMILY: Cuculidae (cuckoos, roadrunners, koels, malkohas, couas, coucals & anis)

Known as the Rainbird for their call, a beautiful rising babble which reminds one of water running over rocks or glugging out of a bottle and reportedly able to foretell rain. Actually they would often call before, during or after the rain. They rejoice at the end of the harsh, dusty, hot, and dry season and herald the cooling rains and the advent of spring. Hearing one makes any African smile. In Xhosa it is known as uBikwe.

Very similar to the slightly smaller Senegal and White-browed Coucals, but this species has fine, rufous barring on the rump and the base of the tail. It has a creamish or whitish breast and throat with brownish upper-body feathers and tail and the back of the head and neck is black. The tail is broad with white stripes across the feathers.

Height: 41cm
Weight: ±180g

Juvenile: is indistinguishable in the field from juvenile Senegal and White-browed Coucals.

Africa south of the Sahara. Common in South Africa from the Western Cape to Northern Limpopo, especially in areas near water.

They occupy riverine shrub, reedbeds, woodlands, long grasslands, sugar cane plantations, and suburban gardens. To attract them to the garden you have to have an area in the garden where the plants are allowed to grow a little wild and woolly. It may be seen creeping about the garden with its head low or occasionally flying across an open space next to bush.

They are heavy clumsy fliers and usually crash more than land! This bird loves to skulk about in the undergrowth and wild scrub.

They feed opportunistically on insects, small reptiles, frogs, rodents and nestling birds.

Its nest is a rough, round affair with grass and leafy twigs off the ground in thick bush. Three to five eggs are produced in Spring or early Summer.

A liquid, bubbling 'doo-doo-doo-doo-doo', descending in scale and then rising towards the end of the phrase.

Conservation status
Common resident; near endemic. Source

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

Pentaxfriend, CeltickRanger, elizabeth, gracious, iris, boreocypriensis, manyee, rcrick, maurydv, eng55, Miss_Piggy, Amadeo, Aaltjie, meyerd, Rehanna, bobcat08, vanderschelden, Dyker, marhowie, smitha, peter_stoeckl, clnaef, jusninasirun, NinaM, sranjan, goldyrs, jeanpaul, Alex99, haraprasan, SelenE, uleko, betsie has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Loot,

Great shot of this beautifull bird
Excellent compo
Perfect colors, sharpness and details
lovely POV and DOF
beautifull OOF BG

TFS Thijs

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-06-01 18:44]

Hi Loot,

I have never seen this exquisite looking bird before! He is so majestic looking and is posing beautifully for you. The colors are amazing. Razor sharp details of the face, plummage and tail feathers. He really is a fashion plate with the eye matching the wings. The clarity is so good that every feather stands out. Just magnificent.


An awesome image in all respects. I particularly like the composition and crispness of the image. Well done.


As they say, picture perfect! Excellent exposure control, great deatil, wonderful pose and POV. This is what makes for a great photograph. Fascinating work.

Best Regards,


Hello Loot,
Excellent composition of this coucal that I first encountered, very beautiful bird!
good close up with a great pose in total sharpness, good colour and details!
many thanks for the notes

  • Great 
  • iris Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 479 W: 60 N: 970] (3088)
  • [2008-06-01 20:39]

Hello Loot,
Yes, a fantastic shot here of the Coucal in dedication for Smitha and her daughters.
Infact i am reminded of a Coucal-in-flight posting of Smitha herself while looking at this one.The red eye and the glorious brown on both of them stand out so wonderfully.
The details here in your post show that each part has been picked up well with superb preservation of colours making it well a saturated and absolutely true to the nature composition.And their calls are such a wonderful reminder of the rainy season.The brown muted BG and the the way you got it perched above the anthill adds to tbe beauty of this composition.
Thank you for sharing this beauty...

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2008-06-01 22:17]

That is indeed a superb shot of this beautiful bird, Loot.
I have never heard of it or seen it before, so thanks for the introduction.
The light and the colors on it just jump out from the screen.
Amazing sharpness of details: I feel like reaching out and touching the feathers.
The clean BG is perfect.
A masterpiece you have here.
TFS. : )

Dear Loot,

Stunning composition of this beautiful looking bird, amazing detail and colours in the plumage, the detail in the eye is just wonderful, composition is perfect excellent Pov, all the best,

Cheers Rick :)

Splendido ritratto, eccellenti POV e composizione, ottima nitidezza e super definizione dei dettagli del piumaggio, fantastici i colori e BG: Grazie e complimenti. Ciao Maurizio

Hi Loot.
Hierdie voeltjie lyk nogal aggresief van aard. Kyk net hoe pof die veertjies. Ongelooflik hoeveel kleure bruin daar in hierdie outjie is. Jy het dit baie mooi vir ons vasgevang. Mooi Loot.
Lekker dag

  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2008-06-01 23:53]

Hi Loot,
Excellent work.Exposure is spot on,focus couldn't be better.POV,colors,sharpness,pose of bird and simple BG are wonderful.Very well done!
Thanks for posting.

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-06-01 23:56]

I love the colours of this bird Loot and especially his long white beard - what a character he looks.

It's a brilliant capture of this bird, excellent pose, superb details and clarity..

The BG is good too, it really helps to make this bird stand out!
Thank you

Hi Loot, an excellent capture of this beautiful bird, Burchell's coucal which I have not seen til now. I also love its posture. Wonderful capture in all aspects my friend. Your notes are perfect too. Worthy dedication to our joint friend Smitha. TFS.


Hello Loot,

Excellent capture of this beautifull bird. Excellent POV, DOF and sharpness. Superb well-saturated colours. Excellent blurry background too.

Hallo Loot
A gorgeous bird, captured in a great side view pose. The combination of colours on the plumage is really spectacular and blends in well with one another. Looking at the brown feathers I can see three different shades of brown, being rustic brown, chocolate brown and reddish brown. I like the white patch of feathers that looks as if the bird is wearing a bib. This is indeed a very elegant looking and handsome bird, almost a royal appearance. The red eye is also eye-catching and almost hypnotic, as it have a magnetic feel to it. I cannot but agree about this birds beautiful call, you cannot appreciate it if you have not heard or listened to it. A stunning image as usual from your hand and your lens. Technically excellent. In my eyes a definite PPPP+ one more P - A Pretty perfect picture photo and pose. For sure a master at work. Thanks for your most informative note.
Love you lots.

Hola Loot, una belleza de ejemplar, unja toma con buena composición, luz y color. Un saludo

  • Great 
  • jesst Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 368 W: 0 N: 172] (2441)
  • [2008-06-02 3:43]

Wonderful shot! Amazing detail and sharp, nice composition and background

Dear Loot
Stunning as always. You have excelled yourself with this one. Technically it is super. You just know how to handle your camera and produce beauties as this one. This is indeed a beautiful bird with lovely features and characteristics. Very charming indeed. Your focus, exposure, sharpness and point of view are just exceptional. I cannot find any fault. It is really a spectacular portrait. Looking at this image makes me think of an old English lord. I remember the call of the rainbird so well. It is such a pure sound, and reading your notes took me back to the time I was staying in South-Africa. Thanks my friend your hard work paid of well and you did not dissapoint me with your choice of posting. It is super duper and really magic. Thanks for sharing.
Keep well and God bless.

I have just checked and we have spotted this bird twice in Kruger, but not close enough for me to get a photo. Once again, great shot with much detail. You were very fortunate to get a shot like this, well done!

hello Loot

WOW what a beautiful of this bird, with fine POV, DOF
and framing, great sharpness and details, i love the warm
luminosity and excellent density of the colours, TFS


  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-06-02 9:39]

Hello Loot, Superb shot and nice eye catch. Good pOV and sharp picture. Ganesh

Hi Loot,
just my compliments for this very expressive bird portrait. As usual with you but deserving a mention from time to time are your detailed accounts that go with your picture, a special thanks for that.
My best regards

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-06-02 11:34]

Hello Loot,
The best photo of this Coucal I've ever seen! This is perfection. Amazing!

Hi Loot
Stunning shot
Crystal clear image with superb detail and sharpness
Beautiful color tones in the feathers
tfs jon

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-06-03 1:02]

Very impressive shot of this beautiful bird!
Excellent detail and sharpness.
Superb diagonal composition.
Brilliant DOF and BG.
Great light.
A brilliant dedication to Smitha.



Hello Loot

Ja, kyk nou, dit is hoe ek 'n vleiloerie onthou. Trots, beeldskoon, en nie soos 'n hoender op 'n mishoop nie. Daar is min dinge wat met sulke pragtige rooi oë kan spog sonder om dit agter 'n donkerbril te wil weg steek as gevolg van te veel gekuier die vorige aand.

Jy het 'n besonderse foto van hierdie pragtige voël geneem. Die fokus is van uitstaande gehalte en die agtergrond, kleur, komposisie, alles het absoluut in plek geval. Puik werk.


Hello Loot,

I try to do here call, but no way my friend (-: I have never seen this exquisite looking bird before. What beautiful, proud pose has this bird. It's realy like a cuckoo.
Brilliant DOF and BG. And your notes are as usual perfect Loot.

I appreciate it very that you this photograph dedicates to Smitha and her lovely two daughters Renu & Meera. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice day and TFS BOB

Hello Loot,
I remember very well this bird and its call:-).
Wasn't able to photograph it so well though. Awesome photograph.

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-06-03 21:43]

Hello Loot

Just marking the post for now.


  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2008-06-04 7:09]

Hello Loot
A very fine photo of this clumsy bird. It sit so full of pride on top of that ant heap. You nailed the focus and the background is nicely isolated. The notes are great too and the sound clip is a great enhancement to the complete package. I've listened to that soothing and peaceful sound for quite a while as I was working on my PC. I am now so calm and relaxed that I can just pour of my chair and catch a 40 winks without even having to go to sleep. Stunning work.

I'm sorry I missed this wonderful post Loot, my loss.
The color, exposure, DOF, POV, detail, BG, etc. all come together here for a most beautiful image of this very smart looking bird.
A PhD at least :) Excellent note, the "wikimapia" thing is a great feature.
The short & sweet version,
Very well done!

Dear Loot,
Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding to your lovely dedication. We were facing network problems and hence the absence from TN.
Thank you so much for this beautiful picture. I am happy to note that the behaviour of this bird reminded you of the photographer in me. It shows how much understanding and appreciative you are of my work.It truly is an honour to have you as my friend :)
Now about the picture, it is an amazing capture. Considering the fact that Coucals are very difficult to photograph,you have done a great work of capturing it with perfectt POV against a smooth neutral background. Amazing sharpnes with excellent feather details. Lovely colours.
Loot, don't you think the white plumage in the throat and abdomen resembles the long snowy beard of Santa Claus? :) I love this bird.
Meera and Renu are also very pleased with the dedication and says," Thank you, uncle Loot".
Thanks once again Loot for this lovely gift,
your friend,

Voilà un charmant oiseau à l'aspect bien effilé.
Bonne journée.

Dear Loot,
perfectly clear presentation of that impressing bird. I love the very strict side view and diagonal composition, and the richly shaded deep colours. The way you present that beautiful bird equals the quality of Audubon's excellent 19th century book illustrations. Thank you!
My best regards,

Hello Loot. This is a fine shot with your Bigma. I like the perfect perch and close crop of the capture. The detail of the plumage is well written in the image with pristine sharpness. The almost straight diagonal line from the head to the tail makes this composition excellent and you have silenced the background very well here, which is signatory of the Sigma lens. Thanks for sharing and best regards, Jusni

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-06-09 9:23]

Hello Loot, it's my first stop at your gallery and I have to say that I was missing wonderful pictures! This one is superb, captured with skill and sensitivity, it is perfectly shot with great sharpness and bright colours. Congratulations, I shall be back!


  • Great 
  • rdfoto Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 372 W: 0 N: 719] (3295)
  • [2008-06-09 13:01]

Bonjour Loot
Très belle capture, excellente couleurs et netteté, belle lumière naturelle, très beau sujet, bravo
Amicalement Robi

This is a very well timed shot, Loot,knowing how restless these birds can be!And I see excellent detail, and a lovely pose...
I do apologise for being away for a few days as i was home, by the Himalayas, for the weekend.

Salut Lott
Belle ambiance et superbe composition. Le regard de l'oiseau donne tout le caractère à la photo. Superbe prise de cet oiseau que l'on ne voit pas souvent sur le site.
Merci et au revoir...JP

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-06-14 0:27]

Hi Loot.
Brilliant shot of a fine bird and perfect scene at hole. Small hillock of ground and colourful smooth BG decorate the simply outstanding bird image excellently. Reproduction of the bird feathers, colors, eye, beak and other charming details and featured is terrific. Framing and composition as well as the note are spot on too. Bravo. Excellent job and my compliments.

Hi Loot,
A lovely capture of this beautiful coucal. Excellent composition and sharp details. There is nothing -ve here. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-06-19 12:38]

Hi Loot,
Lovely capture of this beautiful bird. POV, details and colors on the plumage, background, composition and details are very good. TFS

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-07-21 12:20]

Hello Loot,
This is a wonderful capture of this lovely bird. I remember the Senegal Coucal well from Gambia that looked very similar to this species. I like its proud pose here and the sharp focus on the red eye. Wonderful details of the plumage too and a fine background.
Many thanks and regards, Ulla

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2008-09-06 3:48]

Hello Loot,
thanks you very much for the visit to my post and beautiful words on our worldview of being a nature lover. I really like the expressions and the flair in your writing.
The shot of the bird above is really stunning. The perching position is very elegant. The clarity is beyond doubt. Well detailed from tail to head. Excellent background to make this bird really stands out.
Brilliant composition Loot. Really love it.


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