Family Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)

Least Concern

Lowland Tiny Greenbul (Phyllastrephus debilis)


French: Bulbul minute German: Gnombülbül Spanish: Bulbul chico costero

Xenocichla debilis

W. L. Sclater

, 1899,

north of Inhambane, south Mozambique


Until recently considered conspecific with P. albigula (which see). Race rabai has grey vs green crown (recent published illustration#R misses this point) and approaches nominate to within 200 km (based on published map#R). Study of voices of these two taxa and P. albigula needed. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. d. rabai E. J. O. Hartert & van Someren, 1921 – C & S coastal Kenya and NE coastal Tanzania (S to R Rufiji).
  • P. d. debilis (W. L. Sclater, 1899) – SE Tanzania, S Mozambique and extreme E Zimbabwe (Haroni–Rusitu).
  • Descriptive notes

    12·8–13·8 cm; male 13·3–17 g, female 12·5–14·9 g (nominate), male 13·5–17 g, female, 11·6–15 g... read more


    Alarm or contact call of rabai a rasping “chicidididididi”, rising in pitch,... read more


    Lowland evergreen forest, forest-woodland mosaic, thick coastal scrub, gallery forest; sometimes... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insectivorous. Usually seen in pairs or in small parties of up to c. 10 individuals, sometimes singly; often joins mixed-species parties.... read more


    Nesting recorded in Dec and May; birds in breeding condition in Oct–May in coastal Tanzania and Oct–Jan in Zimbabwe. Monogamous... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common; apparent declines in N & S parts of range, implying that it is less common than it used to be in parts of Kenya... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fishpool, L., Tobias, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Lowland Tiny Greenbul (Phyllastrephus debilis). 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).