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any of about 27 species of medium to large birds of the genus Centropus of the cuckoo family (Cuculidae). They are found from Africa and Madagascar across southern Asia to Australia and the Solomon Islands. About 30 to 90 cm (12 to 36 inches) long, coucals are loose-plumaged birds with rather stout, down-curved bills, short wings, and long, graduated tails. Weak fliers, they feed chiefly on large insects but can run down small rodents and reptiles. Three to five eggs are placed in a domed grass nest built on the ground or in a low bush.