Family Old World Warblers and Parrotbills (Sylviidae)

Least Concern

Rwenzori Hill-babbler (Sylvia atriceps)


French: Fauvette du Rwenzori German: Schwarzkopf-Grasmücke Spanish: Curruca del Rwenzori

Turdinus atriceps


, 1902,

Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda


Along with S. abyssinica previously separated as Pseudoalcippe in Timaliidae, but genetic data#R place both species in present genus. Often treated as conspecific with S. abyssinica, and strongly similar in voice, but circumstances suggest otherwise: (a) presence in Nigeria and Cameroon, close to W populations of latter, implies that the two are distinct; (b) lack of subspeciation between highly disjunct W and C African populations appears particularly strange when united with polytypic S. abyssinica; (c) differs from latter in its black vs grey head (3); chestnut vs rufous-tinged olive-brown upperparts (2); blackish vs pale grey underparts (2). Monotypic.


SE Nigeria, W & C Cameroon (but not Mt Cameroon), NE DRCongo, SW Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

Descriptive notes

14 cm; 17–23 g. Has crown to nape, head side and chin sooty-grey, cutting sharply to rich rufous-brown on rest of upperparts and upperwing; tail dark grey-brown with... read more


Song, by both sexes and apparently all year, a rich warbling, very similar or identical to that of... read more


Shrubbery and bamboo in montane forest, particularly in more open areas such as glades and... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, including bark beetles (Scolytidae) and ants (Formicidae), also caterpillars and other insect larvae; also berries and seeds.... read more


Season Mar in Nigeria, Feb–May and Sept in Cameroon; Jan–Aug and Nov (and probably all year) in DRCongo, around Dec in Rwanda... read more



Status and conservation

Not assessed. Common in extreme SE Nigeria; in Cameroon, widespread and common (commonest at higher elevations) in Bamenda Highlands, including Mt Oku and Bafut-Ngemba Forest... read more

Recommended citation

Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2020). Rwenzori Hill-babbler (Sylvia atriceps). 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 29 February 2020).