Family Berrypeckers and Longbills (Melanocharitidae)

Least Concern

Slaty-headed Longbill (Toxorhamphus poliopterus)


French: Toxoramphe à tête grise German: Graukinn-Pfriemschnabel Spanish: Picudo cabecigrís
Other common names: Slaty-chinned Longbill, Grey-winged Longbill

Melilestes poliopterus


, 1882,

Astrolabe Mountains, south-east New Guinea


See T. novaeguineae. Proposed race septentrionalis (Huon Peninsula) included in nominate. Variation mainly clinal; species sometimes treated as monotypic#R. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. p. maximus Rand, 1941 – mountains of W & C New Guinea (N slope of Weyland Mts and Snow Mts).
  • T. p. poliopterus (Sharpe, 1882) – mountains of E & SE New Guinea, including Central Highlands, Mt Bosavi, Adelbert Mts, and Saruwaged Mts (in Huon Peninsula).
  • Descriptive notes

    12·5 cm; 14–15 g. A small passerine with a long, dark, strongly decurved bill and a dark head. Male nominate race has head and nape dark bluish-grey, upperparts... read more


    Heard more often than seen; varied vocalizations, some of which reminiscent of a sunbird (... read more


    Primary forest in hills and lower mountains, also secondary growth and edges of gardens in forest;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet poorly known; feeds on arthropods and nectar. Tends to be shy and hard to see; responds to playback of taped song, but always very... read more


    Breeding recorded in May, Jun, Aug and Oct in highlands and in Apr and Sept at Sogeri Plateau (near Port Moresby), suggesting a wide range... read more


    Resident; no movements reported.  

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common, but elusive; occupies large range in New Guinea, in widely distributed habitat, but absent from Vogelkop. Often common at... read more

    Recommended citation

    Gregory, P. (2019). Slaty-headed Longbill (Toxorhamphus poliopterus). 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 25 March 2019).