Family Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)

Least Concern

Olive-headed Bulbul (Arizelocichla striifacies)


French: Bulbul à face striée German: Streifenohrbülbül Spanish: Bulbul cabecioliva

Xenocichla striifacies

Reichenow and Neumann

, 1895,

Marangu, Kilimanjaro


Race olivaceiceps was split from A. milanjensis in 1990#R but it belongs with nominate striifacies. Although iris colour apparently variable and thus no clear taxonomic indicator, species differs from A. milanjensis in its olive-green vs dark grey crown (3); lack of white crescent above eye (2); little or no greyish-white on throat (1); black vs grey lores (ns[1]); slightly brighter green underparts (ns[1]); and larger size, albeit bill same size (effect size for tail 3.29; score 2). Moreover, song without final trill apparently heard only from A. milanjensis (no score until sample larger [2]), but song of presumed striifacies in Taita Hills on current evidence different from that of others and rather closer to A. milanjensis song, suggesting need for further work at that site#R. Two subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. striifacies (Reichenow & Neumann, 1895) – Stripe-faced Bulbul – highlands of SE Kenya S to SW Tanzania (S to Udzungwas).
  • A. s. olivaceiceps (Shelley, 1896) – Olive-headed Bulbul – highlands of SW Tanzania (Rungwe), Malawi (except Mt Mulanje) and NW Mozambique (Unangu).
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 19 cm; male 39–50 g, female 37–47 g (nominate), male 37–46·5 g, female 44·2–48·3 g ( olivaceiceps). A medium-large, brightly coloured greenbul with conspicuously... read more


    In N Malawi (olivaceiceps) song up to 4–5 measured notes, “cho, cha, chip, cho, chip”, “... read more


    Montane and submontane forest, riparian forest, adjacent scrub and thicket and, locally, in exotic... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous. Fruits, seeds; also arthropods, worms; also small vertebrates, including chameleons (Chamaeleo) and frogs (of genus ... read more


    Recorded in Oct, Dec–Feb, May and Jul in E Africa (birds in breeding condition and dependent juveniles in Jul–Aug, nestbuilding in Nov, in... read more


    Mainly resident; seasonal movements to lower altitudes during cold or dry seasons in at least some... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally rather common, but marked declines have been reported locally, e.g. in NE Tanzania. In Malawi, at least, densities vary... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Olive-headed Bulbul (Arizelocichla striifacies). 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 19 August 2019).