Family Vangas and allies (Vangidae)

Least Concern

Retz's Helmetshrike (Prionops retzii)


French: Bagadais de Retz German: Dreifarben-Brillenvanga Spanish: Prionopo de Retz

Prionops retzii


, 1856,

“ad flumen Doughe“= Okavango River, southern Africa


Closely related to P. gabela, and conceivably conspecific. Proposed race intermedius (Mwanza, S of L Victoria) included in tricolor, and neumanni (Fanole, in Somalia) in graculinus. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. r. nigricans (Neumann, 1899) – Angola (except N & extreme S), NW Zambia and SE DRCongo.
  • P. r. graculinus Cabanis, 1868 – S Somalia, Kenya and NE Tanzania.
  • P. r. retzii Wahlberg, 1856 – extreme S Angola (S Huíla and probably Cubango) and S Zambia S to N Namibia, N & E Botswana, Zimbabwe and NE South Africa (Limpopo).
  • P. r. tricolor G. R. Gray, 1864 – W & S Tanzania and S & E Zambia S to Malawi, Mozambique, NE South Africa (Mpumalanga, N KwaZulu-Natal) and E Swaziland.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–24 cm; 33–61 g. Nominate race has head, neck, upper mantle and underside from chin to belly glossy black, including slight crest on forecrown to lores; lower... read more


    Highly vocal; at least 16 different vocalizations identified, and some calls may reflect individual... read more


    Well-developed, moist deciduous broadleaf woodland, including Baikiaea, Brachystegia... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly insects, e.g. beetles (Coleoptera), butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera), caterpillars and other larvae, cicadas (Cicadidae),... read more


    Egg-laying mainly Jan–Mar and Sept in E Africa and Aug–Mar (peak Sept–Oct) in C & S Africa, nesting believed... read more


    Poorly known. Probably largely resident, with some post-breeding dispersive wandering out of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to frequent across large parts of range. Densities typically five times less than those of P. plumatus; in S Mozambique, 35... read more

    Recommended citation

    Allan, D. (2019). Retz's Helmetshrike (Prionops retzii). 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 May 2019).