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Coua delalandei - Snail-eating Coua (RMNH 110.100)
RMNH 110.100

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

Snail-eating Coua Coua delalandei (Temminck, 1827)

  • RMNH 110.100: adult, male. Madagascar. Collector: Bernier.

First cuckoo to become extinct
Little can be said about the Snail-eating Coua. This large, non-parasitic cuckoo, the only member of this family known to be extinct to date, was a ground dweller native to Madagascar. As for so many species of this island, the arrival of man proved fatal. The feathers were highly valued by the inhabitants, so hunting may have contributed to its extinction. When European settlers arrived, two more threats were introduced: rats, cats and other predators were released and the habitat of the bird was destroyed.

Museum specimens
All 13 museum specimens of the Snail-eating Coua were collected in a relatively short period of time. Temminck described the species in 1827 on the basis of 'an unique specimen' which he had seen in the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. The last Snail-eating Coua collected was sent to that same museum only seven years later by Chevalier J.A. Bernier, who also shot the Leiden specimen. Although the species has not been collected since 1834, it appears to have survived much longer. The last sightings are said to date from the 1920's.

Apart from Leiden en Paris, specimens are preserved in the museums of Tring, New York, Philadelphia, Cambridge (Massachusetts) and Tananarive (Madagascar).


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