Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Crested Coua

Coua cristata

Often considered among the most beautiful birds in the world, the crested coua is a medium-sized bird, approximately 12-inches long. It is part of the cuckoo (Cuculidae) family, named after its call. Crested couas are distinguished by the turquoise-colored bare skin over their eyes. They are known to be inquisitive, restless birds that bounce through the trees and don’t fly often.

Range & Habitat

Crested couas are native to Madagascar, where they are found in forest, savanna, and shrubland habitats. It prefers dry forests and may also be found in recently burned areas of forest. Crested couas can live at elevations as high as 2,953 feet (900 meters).


Conservation Status: Least Concern

The crested coua population is decreasing; there are land/water protections on identified conservation sites.


In the Wild - Large insects, fruits, berries, seeds, snails, chameleons, geckos, tree flower buds and resin from trees.

At the Zoo - Fruit, berries, insects and grain-based bird food.

Life Span

In the Wild - unknown
In Human Care - 15+ years

Fun Facts about the Crested Coua

  • Crested coua chicks have unique red and white “bullseye” markings inside their mouths, presumably to show their parents where to place their food.
  • Couas are most vocal around sunset, making a variety of calls such as a “koa-koa-koa” and another distinctive sound known as a “laser gun” call.
  •  Crested couas do not flock - they are solitary or paired. Both the male and female crested couas co-parent their young.


BirdLife International. 2016. Coua cristata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22725453A94892874. on 09 February 2021.

Heitman, A. (n.d.). Species Fact Sheets: Crested Coua (Coua cristata). Retrieved January 31, 2021, from

North Carolina Zoo. (2021). Crested Coua. Retrieved February 1, 2021, from

Tulsa (Ed.). (2021). Crested Coua (Coua cristata). Retrieved February 1, 2021, from

Updated June 13, 2023
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