Family Whistlers (Pachycephalidae)

Least Concern

Drab Whistler (Pachycephala griseonota)


French: Siffleur terne German: Molukkendickkopf Spanish: Silbador cenizo

Pachycephala griseonota

G. R. Gray

, 1862,

Seram, Moluccas


Sometimes treated as a race of P. rufiventris. All races at least moderately distinctive and johni particularly well marked, leading to its occasional treatment as a separate species#R#R, but recent claim for its vocal distinctiveness#R not well supported by analyses of available sound recordings, which reveal that it possesses a far greater variety of song phrases, many shared with other taxa, than supposed#R; moreover, the taxonomic elevation of this centrally placed form appears invidious, and it may be better to wait until further work on all taxa can elucidate the number and degree of differences among them. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. g. cinerascens Salvadori, 1878 – Morotai, Halmahera, Bacan, Ternate and Tidore.
  • P. g. lineolata Wallace, 1863 – Sula Is (Seho, Taliabu, Sanana); perhaps this race recently recorded on Peleng I#R.
  • P. g. examinata E. J. O. Hartert, 1898 – Buru.
  • P. g. griseonota G. R. Gray, 1862 – Drab Whistler – Seram.
  • P. g. kuehni E. J. O. Hartert, 1898 – Kai Is (Kai Kecil, Tual, Kai Besar).
  • P. g. johni E. J. O. Hartert, 1903 – Obi Whistler – Obi.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–15·5 cm. Male nominate race has forehead, crown and side of head sooty grey, upperparts greyish-brown, upper­wing and tail dusky grey-brown; chin and... read more


    Song on Seram (nominate race) a loud, prolonged, cheery warble lasting c. 15 seconds; on Halmahera... read more


    Primary and tall secondary forest, avoiding densest parts; also dry forest, selectively logged... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects. Forages from understorey up to canopy. Sometimes in mixed-species foraging flocks (Bacan, Obi, Kai Kecil).


    Juvenile in mid-Sept. No other information available.



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Restrictedrange species: present in Banda Sea Islands EBA, Banggai and Sula Islands EBA, Buru EBA, Seram EBA and Northern Maluku EBA. Common on... read more

    Recommended citation

    Boles, W. (2020). Drab Whistler (Pachycephala griseonota). 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 7 April 2020).