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Hooded Pitohui - BirdForum Opus

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Photo by Mehd Halaouate
Taja, Papua, August 2006

Alternative names: Black-headed Pitohui; Lesser Pitohui; Lesser Wood-shrike

Pitohui dichrous


22 - 23cm, 8.6-9 inches. 67–76 g


  • Black head, chin, throat and upper breast
  • Rufous-chestnut uperparts
  • Black tail and upperwing
  • Bright rufous-chestnut rest of underparts
  • Reddish-brown eye
  • Dark brown to black bill
  • Legs black
  • Sexes similar.


Similar species

Similar to some subspecies of Northern Variable Pitohui and Southern Variable Pitohui but note bright rufous plumage.


Endemic to New Guinea. Also on Yapen Island.
Locally fairly common.


Clements accepts two subspecies[1]:

  • P. d. dichrous
  • Mountains of n New Guinea and Yapen I.
  • P. d. monticola
  • Mountains of central New Guinea

However other authorities[2],[3],[4] treat this species as monotypic.


Forests and secondary growth, forest edges, sometimes low trees on beaches and mangroves Found at 350 - 1700m, locally up to 2000m and at sea level


Resident species


Feeds mainly on fruit but takes also some insects and grass seeds.
Chicks fed with invertebrates and berries.


Breeding recorded from October to February. The nest is a cup made of curly vine tendrils, suspended from slender branches around 2m above the ground. Lays 1 - 2 creamy or rose eggs, speckled light and dark brown to black, with background light grey patches.
Upwards of three adults are known to feed chicks at one nest, with four or five defending the nest.


Song is irregular. A series of combinations of 3–7 harmonic whistles, with up- and downslurs of varying length interspersed with reluctant spaces. Normally starting with 2 notes of thesame pitch followed by upslur. Other sounds include “tuk tuk w’oh tuw’uow”, two noisy whistles, “woiy, woiy”, two downslurred whistles, “tiuw tow”; three ascending whistles getting louder, “hui-whui-whooee” and six fast, identical upslurs.


The skin and feathers contain powerful neurotoxic alkaloids of the batrachotoxin group (also secreted by the Colombian poison dart frogs, genus Phyllobates). It is believed that these serve the birds as a chemical defence, either against ectoparasites or against visually guided predators such as snakes, raptors or humans. (Dumbacher, et al., 1992) The birds probably do not produce batrachotoxin themselves. It is most likely that the toxins come from the Choresine genus of beetles, part of the bird's diet. (Dumbacher, et al., 2004)


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. 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
  3. Gill F, D Donsker & P Rasmussen (Eds). 2021. IOC World Bird List (v11.1). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.11.1. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/#Dickinson, EC, ed. 2014. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 4th ed. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0956861122
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved August 2015)

Recommended Citation

External Links