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Pityriaseidae

Bristlehead
Bornean Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala ©Jordan Sitorus Website

The Bornean Bristlehead also variously known as the Bristled Shrike, Bald-Headed Crow or the Bald-headed Wood-shrike, is the only member of the passerine family Pityriaseidae and genus Pityriasis. It is an enigmatic and uncommon species of the rainforest canopy of the island of Borneo, to which it is endemic.

The relationships of this species have been controversial. At times it has been placed in the Prionopidae, the Cracticidae, the Artamidae or the Corvidae. A more recent suggestion has been to include it in the Tephrodornithidae, a new family that includes Hemipus and Tephrodornis.

It is a medium-sized (25 centimetres in length) black or dark grey bird, with red thighs and a red head, throat and neck, with grey ear-coverts and a featherless yellow crown. There is a white wing-patch, visible in flight, and females also have red spots on the flanks. It has a massive heavy black hooked bill and a short tail, giving it a chunky appearance. The crown is covered by short (3–4 mm) yellow or straw-coloured skin projections like bare feather shafts, hence the name 'bristlehead'. Juveniles have black thighs, red ear-coverts, a red eye-ring, just a few red feathers on the head and undeveloped 'bristles'.

It is a noisy species making a variety of unmusical calls, including distinctive high-pitched nasal whining notes interspersed with harsher notes, chattering noises, whistles, honks and chortles.

Endemic to the island of Borneo, throughout the lowlands of which it has been recorded up to 1200m, though its distribution is sparse, patchy and unpredictable. It may be found in both primary and secondary lowland forests, including peat swamp forests, mixed dipterocarp forests and mangroves

It is a sociable species which often moves steadily in small garrulous flocks of 6–10 birds in the mid and upper canopy of the forest, sometimes accompanied by other large forest birds such as malkohas, babblers, drongos, trogons, woodpeckers and hornbills in mixed-species feeding flocks. Its movements in the canopy are slow and heavy and it flies with a fast, shallow wing-beat. They feed on small plants, fruits and vegetable.

Bornean Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala

Family Links

Bristlehead Pityriaseidae

Species Account

The Bornean Bristlehead is a strange and unique bird, endemic to the lowland forests of Borneo. It is a rather rare and elusive canopy dwelling species about which little is known.

Bristlehead Pityriaseidae

Family Account

Much of the life history of the Bristlehead is a mystery. The little that is known about this species has been pieced together from old specimen records and from a number of casual recent field observations. There have been no ecological studies of the species.

Species Links

Bornean Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala

BirdLife Species Account

This unusual species is likely to be declining moderately rapidly throughout much of its range as a result of forest loss and degradation. It is currently considered Near Threatened, and should be carefully monitored.

Bornean Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala

Species Account

The Bornean bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala), also variously known as the bristled shrike, bald-headed crow or the bald-headed wood-shrike, is the only member of the passerine family Pityriaseidae and genus Pityriasis. It is an enigmatic and uncommon species of the rainforest canopy of the island of Borneo, to which it is endemic.

Bornean Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala

Species Account

The Bornean Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala is endemic to the lowland forests of Borneo. It has been classified as Near Threatened ...

Bornean Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala

HBW Species Account

HBW Alive contains information on Descriptive notes, Voice, Habitat, Food and Feeding, Breeding, Movements, Status and Conservation plus a list of bibliographical references for this species account.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 1