Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

Silver-crowned Friarbird (Philemon argenticeps)


French: Polochion couronné German: Weißscheitel-Lederkopf Spanish: Filemón coronado

Tropidorhynchus argenticeps


, 1840,

between King Sound and Port King George IV, Kimberley Division, Western Australia


Nominate race varies clinally in both size and colour, becoming slightly larger from N to S and darker from arid areas to more humid ones; in Northern Territory, proposed races melvillensis (Melville I) and alexis (Alexandria) represent such clinal variation, and both are merged with nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. argenticeps (Gould, 1840) – N Western Australia (Kimberley Division, mainly N & E of Fitzroy R, including many offshore islands) E through Top End of Northern Territory (S to upper reaches of drainage basins of Victoria, Roper, McArthur and Nicholson Rivers, and on many offshore islands, including Melville I, Groote Eylandt and Sir Edward Pellew Group) to NW Queensland (SE head of Gulf of Carpentaria and N Selwyn Range).
  • P. a. kempi Mathews, 1912 – Cape York Peninsula (S to E of line from Weipa to Innisfail), in NE Queensland.
  • Descriptive notes

    25–32 cm; male 70–106 g and female 59–88·5 g (nominate), three males 90–97 g (kempi). Medium-sized tropical friarbird with robust,... read more


    Very noisy, calls and song described as harsh and discordant warbles, squawks and guttural croaking... read more


    Mostly open tropical Eucalyptus forests and woodlands, sometimes also with paperbarks (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly nectar, from wide variety of plants; also invertebrates (insects, spiders), as well as fruit (especially figs) and some seeds.... read more


    Season Sept–Mar, rarely Jul (nominate); peak around Darwin (Northern Territory) in Sept, after peak of nectar production in woodlands... read more


    Apparently resident, or partly so, combined with at least local movements. While widely described... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common. No estimates of total population. At various sites in Northern Territory, recorded densities of 0·05–3·93 birds/ha. Range... read more

    Recommended citation

    Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2019). Silver-crowned Friarbird (Philemon argenticeps). 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 9 December 2019).