Family Woodhoopoes (Phoeniculidae)

Least Concern

White-headed Woodhoopoe (Phoeniculus bollei)


French: Irrisor à tête blanche German: Weißmaskenhopf Spanish: Abubilla arbórea cabeciblanca

Irrisor Bollei


, 1858,

Ashanti, Ghana


Relationships uncertain; previously thought perhaps closest to Rhinopomastus castaneiceps (which see). Race okuensis seems distinct, perhaps smaller and with some plumage differences (e.g. head pattern, scapular colour); further study needed. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. b. bollei (Hartlaub, 1858) – SE Guinea and Liberia to S Ghana, and from S Nigeria to S Cameroon, Central African Republic and extreme NW DRCongo; claimed report from SE Mali rejected#R.
  • P. b. okuensis Serle, 1949 – W Cameroon (Mt Kilum).
  • P. b. jacksoni (Sharpe, 1890) – S South Sudan, and E DRCongo to C Kenya.
  • Descriptive notes

    30–35·5 cm; 45–68 g. Nominate male with forecrown, face, chin and throat buffish white; remainder of plumage dark and iridescent, much of body plumage and... read more


    While foraging both sexes give a frequent high-pitched "kuk" note that is uttered either... read more


    Inhabits lowland and montane primary forest, secondary growth, sometimes more open deciduous... read more

    Food and feeding

    Primarily arthropods, including adult and larval beetles, earwigs, grasshoppers, ants, termites, spiders (including egg cocoons),... read more


    Evidence of breeding almost throughout year over entire range, in both wet and dry seasons; apparently lays in Ghana in May–Jun;... read more


    Resident; individual birds probably highly sedentary, no movements recorded.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. No population estimates available, so numbers of individuals entirely unknown; reasonably common resident of highland forest in Kenya; uncommon to... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ligon, D. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). White-headed Woodhoopoe (Phoeniculus bollei). 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 April 2019).