The Black Coucal (Centropus grillii) is sometimes regarded as conspecific (of, or belonging to, the same species) with the Madagascar Coucal (Centropus toulou), but voices of the two differ; has also been considered possibly conspecific with the Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis), but their ranges are highly disjunct and their vocalizations apparently differ.
This species is considered monotypic (one single species).
This African cuckoo occurs naturally in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The species has the role of sexes reversed with the males tending the nest while females are polyandrous and maintain territories. Studies on the hormonal system show that male hormones are responsible for controlling the aggressiveness of females.