Mangrove whistler

   ›      ›   Mangrove whistler - Pachycephala cinerea

The mangrove whistler (Pachycephala cinerea) belongs to the family of whistlers and shrikethrushes, the Pachycephalidae.

The mangrove whistler species is distributed in India, Bangladesh and southeast Asia. These species are also known as the grey thickhead and white-bellied whistler. These whistlers are polytypic species.
Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Mangrove Whistler Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The mangrove whistler (Pachycephala cinerea) is a medium-sized whistler, measuring 15 to 27 cm in length and weighing 20 to 25 grams. Both the sexes look alike.

The crown of the mangrove whistler is ashy gray. The forehead is light gray. The upperparts and wings are uniformly grayish brown. The chin and throat are whitish. The breast is pale gray. The rest of the underparts are white.

The bill is black. The irises are dark brown. The feet are silvery gray. The whistler call is a loud whistling "pee..purr..chiaoonkk" sound.
Indian birds - Image of Mangrove whistler - Pachycephala cinerea
1.Birds of India - Image of Mangrove whistler - Pachycephala cinerea by Dibyendu Ash


Origin, geographical range and distribution

The mangrove whistler species are distributed in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines. The subspecies P. c. plateni is distributed in Palawan Islands, in west Philippines.

The mangrove whistler nominate subspecies P. c. cinerea is distributed in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia.

In India, the mangrove whistler species occur in the states of West Bengal and Odisha and also in the Union Territory of Andaman Islands.

Ecosystem and habitat

These mangrove whistler species have moderate forest dependence. They normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 1000 meters. The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these whistler species include rural gardens, casuarina and eucalyptus plantations and urban parks.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these mangrove whistler species include, tropical and subtropical mangrove forests, tropical and subtropical moist montane forests and moist lowland forests.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these mangrove whistler consists mainly of insects. Insects, insect larvae, beetles, grasshoppers, locust, crickets, dragonflies, cicadas, moths, butterflies, crickets, spiders and airborne ants and termites are their primary food.

These mangrove whistler species hunt insect prey by sallying. They may form feeding flocks with other small birds. They hawk airborne insects and also glean their prey from the foliage and branches of trees.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these whistler species is from April to July in India. In much of southeast Asia the breeding season is from March to June. The laying season is during April in Java (Indonesia).

The nesting sites are usually located on small trees 1-4 meters above the ground. The clutch contains two eggs.

Migration and movement patterns

These mangrove whistler species are non-migrant, resident birds.

Post breeding, the juvenile whistlers may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Mangrove whistler - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Pachycephala cinerea
  • Species author: (Blyth, 1847)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Muscitrea cinerea Blyth, 1847
  • Family: Pachycephalidae › Passeriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Mangrove whistler, Chinese: 红树啸鹟, French: Siffleur cendré, German: Schnäpperdickkopf, Spanish: Silbador de manglar, Russian: Белобрюхий свистун, Japanese: マングローブモズヒタキ, Indonesian: Burung Kancilan Bakau
  • Other names: White-bellied Whistler
  • Distribution: India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines
  • Diet and feeding habits: caterpillars, insects, insect larvae, beetles, airborne ants and termites, grasshoppers
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the mangrove whistler (Pachycephala cinerea) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of the species is considered to be stable.

Throughout its range, this species is reported to be scarce to locally fairly common. The generation length is 6.7 years. Its distribution size is about 7,600,000

Mangrove habitat alteration and destruction, developments in coastal aquaculture and expansion of agriculture are the main threats that are endangering the survival of this whistler species.

IUCN and CITES status

The mangrove whistler (Pachycephala cinerea) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the species and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for mangrove whistler (Pachycephala cinerea).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Pachycephala cinerea
Species:P. cinerea
Binomial name:Pachycephala cinerea
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The mangrove whistler (Pachycephala cinerea) is closely related to the green-backed whistler (Pachycephala albiventris) and the white-vented whistler (Pachycephala homeyeri).

The two recognized subspecies of mangrove whistler (Pachycephala cinerea) are: Pachycephala cinerea cinerea (Blyth, 1847) and Pachycephala cinerea plateni (A. W. H. Blasius, 1888).
Popular posts on Birds of India
Sirkeer malkoha Asian barred owlet
White-cheeked (small green) barbet Brown-capped (Indian) pygmy woodpecker
Green-billed malkoha Collared owlet
Lineated barbet White-browed piculet
Western hooded pitta Common woodshrike
White-breasted woodswallow Marshall's iora
Indian pitta Bar-winged flycatcher-shrike
Black-winged cuckooshrike Sociable lapwing
Long-tailed broadbill Common (Grey-capped) emerald dove
Blue-naped pitta Large woodshrike
Small pratincole Little gull
Eastern spotted dove Asian (western) koel
Wood snipe Indian thick-knee
Eurasian oystercatcher Great thick-knee
Jerdon's courser Jack snipe
Brown-headed gull Slender-billed gull
Crab-plover Beach thick-knee
Ibisbill Black-winged stilt
Tawny owl Great barbet
Yellow-rumped honeyguide Eurasian wryneck
Yellow-wattled lapwing Great snipe
Franklin's gull Barred cuckoo-dove
Asian dowitcher Black-legged kittiwake
Nicobar pigeon Greater coucal
Silver-breasted broadbill Blue pitta
Malabar woodshrike Ashy woodswallow
Common iora Large (Indian) cuckooshrike
Laughing dove Fork-tailed drongo-cuckoo
Jungle owlet Golden-throated barbet
Grey-capped woodpecker Eurasian collared dove

Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Dibyendu Ash | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Current topic in Birds of India: Mangrove whistler - Pachycephala cinerea.
Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.