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Mangrove Whistler - BirdForum Opus

Photo by wengchun
Pulau Kukup National Park, Johore, Malaysia, June 2004

Alternative names: Grey Thickhead; Grey Mangrove Flycatcher-shrike

Pachycephala cinerea

Includes: Palawan Whistler


Photo by robby thai
Ko Man Nai Island, Thailand, April 2018

15·5–17 cm (6-6¾ in). A large-headed bird with few field marks.

  • Head dull grey to ashy brown
  • Ashy grey upperparts
  • Umber tail
  • White underparts, faintly brown mottled throat and cheek
  • Brown eye
  • Black bill

Sexes alike. Juveniles have warm rusty brown upperparts.

Similar Species

A bird forum member pointed out the danger of mistaking this for Asian Brown Flycatcher which has a white eye ring.


Found on coasts from northeast India (including Andamans) east to Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, inland in Laos, southern Vietnam, Singapore, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Bali, Lombok, several other small islands in Indonesia and Palawan (Philippines).
A widespread species, fairly common to scarce in its range.


Forms a superspecies with Green-backed Whistler, White-vented Whistler and Island Whistler and is sometimes considered conspecific with the first two.
Some authorities use the name Pachycephala grisola, but the type specimen is lost and grisola should not be used as it's unidentifiable.

Vocal and plumage differences lead some authorities to split subspecies plateni as "Palawan Whistler", P. plateni leaving cinerea as "Mangrove Whistler" (strict sense), P. cinerea.


Two subspecies accepted[1]:

Proposed subspecies vandepolli, butaloides and secedens are usually not accepted and merged with the nominate.


Mangroves and adjacent coastal woodland. Also locally in plantations and gardens near coast. Plateni is found in forests at all elevations.



Feeds on insects.
Often joins mixed-species flocks.


Breeding from March to June in Southeast Asia, April to July in India. The nest is a flimsy cup placed 1 - 4m above the ground, sometimes higher. Lays 2 eggs.


Resident species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553422

Recommended Citation

External Links

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