Family Whistlers (Pachycephalidae)

Least Concern

Brown Whistler (Pachycephala griseiceps)


French: Siffleur à tête grise German: Papuadickkopf Spanish: Silbador pardo
Other common names: Grey-headed Whistler

Pachycephala griseiceps

G. R. Gray

, 1858,

Aru Islands


Usually treated as conspecific with P. simplex (see that species). Race brunnescens previously listed under older name dubia, but latter is preoccupied#R; this race has been suggested#R#R to belong instead in P. simplex (sensu stricto), but it seems improbable on biogeographical grounds and curious on basis of morphology, since brunnescens, while distinctive, seems closer in its warm colours to other taxa in P. griseiceps (and certainly sudestensis). Forms waigeuensis, gagiensis and perneglecta sometimes synonymized with nominate griseiceps, and miosnomensis with jobiensis#R. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. g. waigeuensis Stresemann & Paludan, 1932 – N West Papuan Is (Gebe, Waigeo).
  • P. g. griseiceps G. R. Gray, 1858 – West Papuan Is (Salawati, Batanta, Misool), NW New Guinea (Vogelkop E to head of Geelvink Bay) and Aru Is.
  • P. g. rufipennis G. R. Gray, 1858 – Kai Is.
  • P. g. gagiensis Mayr, 1940 – Gagi I (SW of Waigeo).
  • P. g. miosnomensis Salvadori, 1879 – Mios Num (in Geelvink Bay).
  • P. g. jobiensis A. B. Meyer, 1874 – N New Guinea from Yapen I and E coast of Geelvink Bay E to Astrolabe Bay.
  • P. g. perneglecta E. J. O. Hartert, 1930 – S New Guinea from foot of Weyland Mts (S from Mimika R) E, including Daru I, to Galley Reach.
  • P. g. brunnescens Wolters, 1980 – SE New Guinea E from Huon Peninsula and, in S, from Sogeri district and Laloki R, and D’Entrecasteaux Archipelago (Goodenough I, Fergusson I, Normanby I).
  • P. g. sudestensis (De Vis, 1892) – Louisiade Archipelago (Tagula I), off SE New Guinea.
  • P. g. peninsulae E. J. O. Hartert, 1899 – NE Queensland (Cape York Peninsula S to Cairns district), in NE Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–15 cm; 20–24 g (New Guinea), 15–20 g (peninsulae). Nominate race has off-white supercilium from sides of forehead to above eye, pale broken eyering, greyish-brown... read more


    Song consists of a series of short introductory notes that descend slightly in pitch and become... read more


    In New Guinea inhabits rainforest, monsoon forest, tall second growth, forest edges, gallery forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects, some spiders (Araneae); occasionally seeds. In New Guinea, forages mostly at c. 5–30 m, less frequently lower, and... read more


    Records suggest breeding peaks in New Guinea mainly at end of wet season and during second half of dry season, some also in early dry and... read more


    Sedentary; all recoveries of marked individuals, in both New Guinea and Australia, less than 10 km... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common at lower elevations in New Guinea; density at study site near R Brown (SE New Guinea) estimated at 20 birds/10 ha. Generally... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Brown Whistler (Pachycephala griseiceps). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 January 2019).