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Prionopidae

Helmetshrike
Retz's Helmetshrike Prionops retzii ©Trevor Hardaker Website

The Prionopidae are a family uniting some smallish to mid-sized passerine species. The helmetshrikes, were included with the true shrikes in the family Laniidae, later on split between several presumably closely related groups such as bushshrikes (Malaconotidae) and cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae), but are now considered sufficiently distinctive to be separated from that group as the single genera family Prionopidae.

This is an African group of species which are found in scrub or open woodland. They are similar in feeding habits to shrikes, hunting insects and other small prey from a perch on a bush or tree. Although similar in build to the shrikes, these tend to be colourful species with the distinctive crests or other head ornaments, such as wattles, from which they get their name. They are noisy and sociable birds, some of which breed in loose colonies. They lay 2-4 eggs in neat, well-hidden nests.

There are just 8 species of Helmetshrike in the family Prionopidae; they are:

White-crested Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus
Grey-crested Helmetshrike Prionops poliolophus
Yellow-crested Helmetshrike Prionops alberti
Red-billed Helmetshrike Prionops caniceps
Rufous-bellied Helmetshrike Prionops rufiventris
Retz's Helmetshrike Prionops retzii
Gabela Helmetshrike Prionops gabela
Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike Prionops scopifrons

Family Links

Helmet-Shrikes Prionopidae

Family Account

Images + The Helmet-Shrikes are a small group of about ten species, restricted to sub-Saharan Africa, that are closely related to Shrikes (Laniidae); Bush-Shrikes (Malaconotidae); Vangas (Vangidae); and the Batises & Wattle-eyes (Platysteiridae). Indeed, most of the older literature lumps this group with one or more of these families (a bit more on taxonomy below). All are placed in but two genera: 8 Prionops and two Eurocephalus, and there is debate whether these two groups should be placed together (I follow the taxonomy of Zimmerman et al. 1996)…

Helmet-Shrikes Prionopidae

HBW Family Account

Annotated species list

Helmet-Shrikes Prionopidae

Family Account

Bare facts and list

Helmet-Shrikes Prionopidae

Family Account

Illustrations and some text

Species Links

Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike Prionops scopifrons

Species Account

The chestnut-fronted helmetshrike (Prionops scopifrons) is a species of bird in the helmetshrike family Prionopidae, formerly usually included in the Malaconotidae.

Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike Prionops scopifrons

BirdLife Species Account

Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike Prionops scopifrons

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Sigmodus scopifrons W. K. H. Peters, 1854, Mozambique. Three subspecies recognized.

Chestnut-fronted Helmetshrike Prionops scopifrons

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Gabela Helmetshrike Prionops gabela

BirdLife Species Account

Gabela Helmetshrike Prionops gabela

Species Account

The Gabela helmetshrike (Prionops gabela) is a species of bird in the helmetshrike family Prionopidae, formerly usually included in the Malaconotidae.

Gabela Helmetshrike Prionops gabela

IUCN Species Status

19 cm. All black forest shrike. Slate-grey body with white tips to tail, paler belly and vent, red eyes, eye wattles and bill.

Gabela Helmetshrike Prionops gabela

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Grey-crested Helmetshrike Prionops poliolophus

HBW Species Account

HBW species profile...

Grey-crested Helmetshrike Prionops poliolophus

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species account...

Grey-crested Helmetshrike Prionops poliolophus

Species Account

The grey-crested helmetshrike (Prionops poliolophus) is a species of bird in the helmetshrike family Prionopidae, formerly usually included in the Malaconotidae.

Grey-crested Helmetshrike Prionops poliolophus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Red-billed Helmetshrike Prionops caniceps

Species Account

The red-billed helmetshrike or chestnut-bellied helmetshrike (Prionops caniceps) is a species of bird in the helmetshrike family Prionopidae, formerly usually included in the Malaconotidae.

Red-billed Helmetshrike Prionops caniceps

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Sigmodus caniceps Bonaparte, 1850, West Africa = Boutry (Butré) River, Ghana. Forms a superspecies, and often considered conspecific, with P. rufiventris. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Red-billed Helmetshrike Prionops caniceps

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Retz's Helmetshrike Prionops retzii

Species Account

The Retz's helmetshrike (Prionops retzii) is a species of bird in the helmetshrike family Prionopidae, formerly usually included in the Malaconotidae.

Retz's Helmetshrike Prionops retzii

BirdLife Species Account

Retz's Helmetshrike Prionops retzii

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Retz's Helmetshrike Prionops retzii

HBW Species Account

Rufous-bellied Helmetshrike Prionops rufiventris

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Sigmodus rufiventris Bonaparte, 1853, Mozambique; error = Gabon. Forms a superspecies, and often considered conspecific, with P. caniceps. Two subspecies recognized.

Rufous-bellied Helmetshrike Prionops rufiventris

BirdLife Species Account

Rufous-bellied Helmetshrike Prionops rufiventris

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Rufous-bellied Helmetshrike Prionops rufiventris

Species Account

The rufous-bellied helmetshrike or Gabon helmetshrike (Prionops rufiventris) is a passerine bird belonging to the helmetshrike family, Prionopidae. It inhabits tropical forest in Central Africa. It is sometimes included within the chestnut-bellied helmetshrike (P. caniceps) of West Africa.

White-crested Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus

Species Account

The white-crested helmetshrike (Prionops plumatus), also known as the white helmetshrike, is a species of passerine bird in the helmetshrike family Prionopidae, formerly usually included in the Malaconotidae.

White-crested Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus

BirdLife Species Account

White-crested Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus

HBW Species Account

Lanius plumatus Shaw, 1809, Senegal. Forms a superspecies with P. poliolophus, and P. alberti possibly part of same group. Other proposed races are adamauae (described from Kontcha, in NC Cameroon), synonymized with concinnatus; melanopterus (from Fer Liban, in SE Ethiopia), synonymized with vinaceigularis; and angolicus (from Malanje, in N Angola), synonymized with poliocephalus. Five subspecies currently recognized.

White-crested Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus

IUCN Species Status

The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is reported to be frequent to common (Fry and Keith 2004).

White-crested Helmetshrike Prionops plumatus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Yellow-crested Helmetshrike Prionops alberti

Species Account

The yellow-crested helmetshrike (Prionops alberti) is a species of bird in the helmetshrike family Prionopidae, formerly usually included in the Malaconotidae.

Yellow-crested Helmetshrike Prionops alberti

BirdLife Species Account

Yellow-crested Helmetshrike Prionops alberti

IUCN Species Status

20 cm. All-black shrike of forest canopy. Slightly glossy, black plumage relieved only by brilliant golden crest.

Yellow-crested Helmetshrike Prionops alberti

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Prionops alberti Schouteden, 1933, summit of Mount Mikeno, 4467 m, Kivu District, DRCongo. Possibly part of the superspecies formed by P. plumatus and P. poliolophus. Monotypic.

Yellow-crested Helmetshrike Prionops alberti

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 8