Family Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)

Least Concern

Sombre Greenbul (Andropadus importunus)


French: Bulbul importun German: Dunkelbülbül Spanish: Bulbul de Zanzibar

Turdus importunus


, 1818,

Outeniekwa Forest, Western Cape, South Africa


Proposed form fricki (C Kenyan highlands), resembling race insularis but with yellow eyering, considered to be immature of that race. Weight increases clinally from Kenya S to South Africa. Several proposed races too poorly differentiated to be safely distinguishable: thus, somaliensis (S Somalia) and subalaris (coastal Kenya) merged with insularis, loquax (SC Mozambique) with hypoxanthus, and noomei (NE South Africa) and errolius (E South Africa) with nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. i. insularis Hartlaub, 1861 – extreme S Ethiopia and S Somalia S to coastal C Tanzania (including Zanzibar).
  • A. i. hypoxanthus Sharpe, 1876 – coastal SE Tanzania (including Mafia I) S to Mozambique (N of R Save), and SC Zambia and Malawi S to Zimbabwe (except along R Limpopo).
  • A. i. oleaginus W. K. H. Peters, 1868 – S Zimbabwe (along R Limpopo), S Mozambique (S of R Save) and lowland N South Africa (S to N KwaZulu-Natal) and E Swaziland.
  • A. i. importunus (Vieillot, 1818) – highlands of N South Africa and W Swaziland S along coast to Western Cape.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–17·5 cm; male 25–30g, female 22–27·5 g (insularis), male 26–40 g, female 24–33 g (other races). A medium-small, plain... read more


    Loud and persistent vocalizations given throughout year, during breeding season virtually... read more


    Dense coastal scrub, thicket and forest, extending inland in riverine bush and forest; also... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly berries and other fruit, including Bryoscarpus, Chassalia, Commiphora, Cyphostemma, ... read more


    Nesting recorded in Apr–Oct and Dec in Kenya, Jan, Mar, May and Oct (birds in breeding condition Nov–Dec and Feb) in Tanzania,... read more


    Sedentary; in S Africa, most ringed individuals have been recovered at original ringing sites for... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common to abundant through much of its extensive range. Estimated densities of 21 birds/100 ha in acacia (Acacia)... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fishpool, L. & Tobias, J. (2019). Sombre Greenbul (Andropadus importunus). 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 7 December 2019).