Family Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)

Least Concern

Icterine Greenbul (Phyllastrephus icterinus)


French: Bulbul ictérin German: Zeisigbülbül Spanish: Bulbul icterino

Trichophorus icterinus


, 1850,



Closely related to P. xavieri, widely sympatric and very similar in appearance; difficulties in distinguishing the two have in past led to some taxonomic confusion, and continue to hinder understanding of their respective distributions and ecology. Relationship with P. lorenzi (see below), which has been considered a melanistic form of present species, requires analysis. P. leucolepis was previously recognized as a species, including in HBW, but lack of recent sightings (including at the type locality)#R and genetic data argue persuasively in favour of it being considered mere intraspecific variation within the present species#R. Birds in E of range (Cameroon E to Uganda) described as race tricolor, on average somewhat greener above and duller yellow below, but not satisfactorily distinguishable, as similarly coloured specimens occur elsewhere in range. Monotypic.


W Sierra Leone and SE Guinea E to Ghana (one record Togo), and from SW Nigeria and Bioko E to SW Central African Republic and S to Gabon, W Congo, N Angola (Cabinda) and extreme W DRCongo (Mayombe); also across most of central DRCongo (S to S Kasai and Kivu) and E to parts of W & S Uganda and extreme NW Tanzania.

Descriptive notes

15–16 cm; male 16·5–24·5 g, female 15–22 g. Small, slender greenbul with conspicuous yellow throat. Lores and ear-coverts are pale olive-green with some yellowish streaking;... read more


Song an unobtrusive, fast nasal chattering, slowing towards end, “chirrrup-chup-chup-chup-... read more


Understorey of primary and old secondary evergreen and semi-deciduous forest, swamp-forest, forest-... read more

Food and feeding

Arthropods, including orthopterans, neuropterans, mantids, bugs (Hemiptera), beetles (Coleoptera), moths (Lepidoptera), caterpillars,... read more


Pair collecting nest material in Oct, fledglings Oct–Nov and independent juveniles Dec–Mar and May in Liberia; begging... read more


Resident. Of 64 birds ringed in Gabon, 36 recaptured at least once at same site over period of up... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread, and generally common to abundant, even at edges of range. Densities of up to 25–30 groups/km² in Gabon, c. 1... read more

Recommended citation

Fishpool, L., Tobias, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Icterine Greenbul (Phyllastrephus icterinus). 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 27 February 2020).