Family Vangas and allies (Vangidae)

Least Concern

Red-billed Helmetshrike (Prionops caniceps)


French: Bagadais à bec rouge German: Rotschnabel-Brillenvanga Spanish: Prionopo piquirrojo

Sigmodus caniceps


, 1850,

West Africa = Boutry (Butré) River, Ghana


Often considered conspecific with P. rufiventris. Races differ in head pattern and voice; study required. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. c. caniceps (Bonaparte, 1850) – Red-billed Helmetshrike – Guinea and Sierra Leone E to Ghana and S Togo.
  • P. c. harterti (Neumann, 1908) – Grey-cheeked Helmetshrike – Benin, Nigeria and W Cameroon.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–22 cm; 42–62 g. Nominate race has crown down to eye level and lores blue-grey, rest of head and neck, including chin and throat, black; upperparts black,... read more


    Highly vocal. Commonest call (probably contact) of nominate race "wrrraak, wrraak",... read more


    Lowland primary and gallery forest, also mature secondary forest, dense riverine vegetation, forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet insects, e.g. beetles (Coleoptera), caterpillars, cicadas (Cicadidae), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), praying mantises (Mantidae) and... read more


    Poorly known. Egg-laying apparently mainly Dec–Feb, also Jul; reported as double-brooded. Likely co-operative breeder, e.g. five... read more


    Apparently sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Frequent to common across large parts of range. Apparently decreased around major urban centres, e.g. Lagos (Nigeria). Present in several protected... read more

    Recommended citation

    Allan, D. (2019). Red-billed Helmetshrike (Prionops caniceps). 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 22 March 2019).