The Grey-necked Picathartes (Picathartes oreas)


One of our #BeakoftheWeek nominees was the delightful grey-necked picathartes.

Grey-necked Picathartes (Picathartes oreas)

Grey-necked Picathartes (Picathartes oreas)

This rather bizarre-looking passerine is known by a number of other names: the red-headed picathartes, the grey-necked rockfowl and red-headed rockfowl. It is placed in the family Picathartidae along with the white-necked picathartes (Picathartes gymnocephalus).

The grey-necked picathartes lives in the rainforests of equatorial Africa, and tends to feed on invertebrates. It also sometimes feeds on plant matter, such as fruit and flower buds and vertebrates which it plucks from the forest floor and low lying vegetation. It’s IUCN Red List status is vulnerable as despite having a large range, it’s population is thought to be fragmented and declining.

Sadly there are currently no recordings available on xeno-canto, perhaps partly owing to the mostly silent nature of the grey-necked picathartes. It has been reported to sometimes makes a quiet hissing noise that lasts for a couple of seconds. Additionally, on approaching the nest it makes a single or double ‘peep’ call and then a low, repeated ‘ga-a-a’ sound.

This bird breeds during the wet season and can nest twice annually in areas where rainfall is high at two different times of the year. Both males and females contribute to building a cup-shaped nest made from mud, roots and fibrous vegetation, that is placed on cliffs, rocks and caves.



BirdLife International. 2015.  Picathartes oreas. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22708119A85077576. . Downloaded on 05 April 2016.

BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Picathartes oreas. Downloaded from on 05/04/2016.

Thompson, H. (2007). Grey-necked Picathartes (Picathartes oreas). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 July 2015).


Grey-necked Picathartes (Picathartes oreas) taken by Stijn Cooleman is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0