Family Whistlers (Pachycephalidae)

Least Concern

Sooty Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla tenebrosa)


French: Siffleur ombré German: Rußdickkopf Spanish: Picanzo sombrío
Other common names: Sooty Whistler

Pachycephala tenebrosa


, 1911,

Mount Goliath, Border Range, New Guinea


When Pachycephala tenebrosa (which see) was placed in present genus, it had priority, so present species was listed as C. umbrina; with removal of former to Pachycephala, present species’ senior name of tenebrosa is reinstated. Variation in plumage considerable, and supposedly darker race atra may be no more than an extreme individual, darkness possibly increasing with age; sometimes treated as monotypic#R. Two subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. t. atra (Rothschild, 1931) – WC New Guinea on N slopes of Snow Mts from upper Siriwo R (Gebroeder Mts) E to Idenburg R.
  • C. t. tenebrosa (Rothschild, 1911) – S slopes of Snow Mts from Weyland Mts E to Mt Goliath, Hindenburg Mts and Sepik Mts; isolated record from W Schrader Mts.
  • Descriptive notes

    18–19 cm; 46 g. Nominate race has crown and head side black to blackish-brown, upperparts dark brown; upperwing and tail dark brown; dusky brown below, throat greyer,... read more


    Alarm call a loud metallic “huitja”.


    Forest and forest edges; known altitudinal range 1400–2150 m.

    Food and feeding

    Insects. Frequents substage and low shrubbery; perches and watches for prey for long periods.


    Pair carrying nesting material in Dec. No other information.


    Presumably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Restricted-range species: present in Central Papuan Mountains EBA. Rare and little known; described as being very shy.

    Recommended citation

    Boles, W. (2020). Sooty Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla tenebrosa). 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 26 January 2020).