Family Whistlers (Pachycephalidae)

Least Concern

Little Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla megarhyncha)


French: Siffleur châtain German: Walddickkopf Spanish: Picanzo chico

Muscicapa megarhyncha

Quoy and Gaimard

, 1830,

Dorey, Vogelkop, New Guinea


Formerly placed in monotypic Myiolestes. Genetic studies reveal deep DNA divergence among the various races, suggesting probably several cryptic species, but sampling still incomplete and instances of introgression and lineage-sorting still require resolution; here we prefer to follow treatment in recent world checklist#R, with subspecies groups as indicated by recent genetic studies#R#R where these are compatible morphologically and geographically with findings of earlier detailed phylogeographical study#R; much further work required. Pale race parvula has been treated as separate species, but hybridizes with neighbouring aelptes. Races misoliensis and ferruginea sometimes included in nominate; hybridus and idenburgi in obscura; and palmeri, neos and superflua in despecta. Proposed race wuroi (S New Guinea) included in goodsoni, and conigravi (N Western Australia) in parvula; parvissima (NE Queensland) is a junior synonym of griseata. Name obscura probably has priority over melanorhyncha by c. 1 month#R#R. Twenty-eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. affinis (G. R. Gray, 1862) – Waigeo Shrike-thrush – N West Papuan Is (Waigeo).
  • C. m. batantae (Meise, 1929) – Batanta I.
  • C. m. misoliensis (Meise, 1929) – Misool I.
  • C. m. megarhyncha (Quoy & Gaimard, 1830) – Rufous Shrike-thrush – Salawati I and W New Guinea from Vogelkop to Wandammen district, foot of Nassau Mts and Oranje Range.
  • C. m. ferruginea (E. J. O. Hartert & Paludan, 1936) – foot of Weyland Mts at head of Geelvink Bay.
  • C. m. aruensis (G. R. Gray, 1858) – Aru Is.
  • C. m. melanorhyncha (A. B. Meyer, 1874) – Biak I, in Geelvink Bay (NW New Guinea).
  • C. m. obscura (A. B. Meyer, 1874) – Brown Shrike-thrush – Yapen I (in Geelvink Bay).
  • C. m. hybridus (Meise, 1929) – N New Guinea from Mamberamo R E to Humboldt Bay.
  • C. m. idenburgi (Rand, 1940) – slopes S of Idenburg R (WC New Guinea).
  • C. m. maeandrina (Stresemann, 1921) – Victor Emanuel Shrike-thrush – EC New Guinea (upper Sepik R, Victor Emanuel Mts).
  • C. m. tappenbecki Reichenow, 1899 – Astrolabe Shrike-thrush – NE New Guinea from lower and middle Sepik R and Central Highlands E to Astrolabe Bay.
  • C. m. madaraszi (Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1903) – Huon Peninsula (NE New Guinea).
  • C. m. goodsoni (E. J. O. Hartert, 1930) – Merauke Shrike-thrush – S New Guinea (Merauke district).
  • C. m. palmeri (Rand, 1938) – Fly R Basin (S between Oriomo R and Morehead R), in S New Guinea.
  • C. m. neos (Mayr, 1931) – E New Guinea (Herzog Mts, upper Watut R and S coast of Huon Gulf).
  • C. m. superflua (Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1912) – N coast of SE New Guinea (Aicora R E to Collingwood Bay).
  • C. m. despecta (Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1903) – Gulf Shrike-thrush – S coast of SE New Guinea (Hall Sound/Angabunga R E to Milne Bay).
  • C. m. trobriandi (E. J. O. Hartert, 1896) – Trobriand Is, off SE New Guinea.
  • C. m. fortis (Gadow, 1883) – Archipelago Shrike-thrush – D’Entrecasteaux Archipelago (Goodenough I, Fergusson I, Normanby I).
  • C. m. discolor De Vis, 1890 – Louisiade Archipelago (Tagula I).
  • C. m. parvula Gould, 1845 – Little Shrike-thrush – NE Western Australia and N Northern Territory (E to E Arnhem Land).
  • C. m. aelptes Schodde & Mason, 1976 – NE Northern Territory (around mouth of McArthur R).
  • C. m. normani (Mathews, 1914) – N Australia on coastal Gulf of Carpentaria and N Queensland (Cape York Peninsula), and islands in Torres Strait.
  • C. m. griseata (G. R. Gray, 1858) – NE Queensland.
  • C. m. synaptica Schodde & Mason, 1999 – E Queensland coast (S Halifax Bay S to Sarina).
  • C. m. gouldii (G. R. Gray, 1858) – E Queensland coast (Broad Bay S to Hervey Bay).
  • C. m. rufogaster Gould, 1845 – Australian Shrike-thrush – SE Queensland and NE New South Wales.
  • Descriptive notes

    16·5–19 cm; 33–41 g. Nominate race is ferruginous above, crown duller, lores and indistinct supercilium dull rufous, uppertail-coverts dull rufous-brown,... read more


    In New Guinea, song 3–6 (sometimes up to 12) melodious whistled notes, with many variations,... read more


    In New Guinea, inhabits rainforest, monsoon forest, ecologically disturbed habitats, tall secondary... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, mainly insects, but including also spiders (Araneae), snails (Gastropoda), small crabs; occasionally seeds and fruit; rarely... read more


    In New Guinea, nests with eggs in Mar, early and late May, Jun, mid-Sept and Oct–Dec, with eggs and young in Sept and with nestlings... read more


    Sedentary in New Guinea; marked individuals repeatedly recaptured at place of banding 8 years later... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to abundant in New Guinea; in lowland rainforest near R Brown (in SE New Guinea) estimated 40 birds/10 ha; comprises c. 3–5% of avifauna... read more

    Recommended citation

    Boles, W. (2019). Little Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla megarhyncha). 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 21 April 2019).