Family Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)

Least Concern

Terrestrial Brownbul (Phyllastrephus terrestris)


French: Bulbul jaboteur German: Laubbülbül Spanish: Bulbul terrestre

Phyllastrephus terrestris


, 1837,

Outeniekwa Forest, Western Cape, South Africa


Race suahelicus intergrades clinally with intermedius in Malawi and N Mozambique. Poorly marked race bensoni (lower Meru Forest, in Kenya) is treated as a synonym of suahelicus; similarly, katangae (extreme SE DRCongo) synonymized with intermedius, as also is rhodesiae (SW Angola to SW Tanzania, S to N Botswana, N Zimbabwe and C Mozambique). Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. t. suahelicus Reichenow, 1904 – S Somalia and C & E Kenya (Meru and Chuka Forests, Mt Kenya, coast) S to N Mozambique.
  • P. t. intermedius Gunning & Roberts, 1911 – SE DRCongo, Zambia, Malawi and N Mozambique S to N Botswana, Zimbabwe and NE South Africa (S to E KwaZulu-Natal); isolated population in SW Angola.
  • P. t. terrestris Swainson, 1837 – Swaziland and E & S South Africa (W KwaZulu-Natal S along coastal fringe to Western Cape).
  • Descriptive notes

    20–22 cm, 33–47 g (nominate); 17–19 cm, male 29·5–44 g, female 24·5–38 g (intermedius); 17–19 cm, male 31–40... read more


    Song a rough chattering of 4–10 low, burry, husky notes, all on one pitch (lower than that of... read more


    Variety of thickly vegetated habitats, including evergreen forest (mostly lowland and coastal,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods, particularly ants (Hymentoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), beetles (Coleoptera), termites (Isoptera); also gastropods, small... read more


    Nesting recorded in Jan and Aug in Kenya, Oct–Apr (mainly Nov–Jan) in Zambia, Sept and Dec–Apr (mainly Dec–Feb) in... read more


    Thought to be largely sedentary; of 62 individuals ringed in Zimbabwe, 38 recaptured at same place... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common, but local in parts of its range. Estimated densities in Swaziland 3 birds/100 ha in acacia (Acacia) savanna, 19 birds/100... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fishpool, L. & Tobias, J. (2020). Terrestrial Brownbul (Phyllastrephus terrestris). 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 21 February 2020).