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White Helmetshrike - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: White-crested Helmet-shrike, Helmet Shrike, Curly-crested Helmet-shrike, Long-crested Helmet Shrike.

P. p. plumatus
Photo © by kamst139
Kasagne, The Gambia, 17 March 2019
Prionops plumatus


P. p. vinaceigularis
Photo © by volker sthamer
Genale, Ethiopia, November 2010

19–25 cm (7½-9¾ in)
Erect whitish forecrown, grey hindcrown, black ear coverts and white collar; northern subspecies have a longer forward-curved crest.
Upperparts black with white wing bar (wing bar absent in some eastern subspecies) and underparts white.
The eye is yellow with yellow eye-wattles; legs pink


Sub-Saharan Africa apart from the forested west, arid south west and cooler south.



P. p. poliocephalus
Photo © by rudydbn
Mkhuze, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Prionops plumatus has five subspecies:[1]

  • P. p. plumatus
  • P. p. concinnatus
  • P. p. cristatus
  • P. p. vinaceigularis
  • P. p. poliocephalus


P. p. plumatus, 3 adults and an immature
Photo © by Steve G
Faraba, Western Division, The Gambia, November 2005

Mixed woodland, savanna, and dry shrubland.



Usually seen in cohesive groups of up to 22; flying from tree to tree as they move along their foraging route. They forage, mainly for invertebrates, on the ground and in trees and bushes.

Their diet consists mostly of caterpillars, butterflies, moths, small reptiles and fruit.


They seem to lay eggs most months of the year.

They essentially live in clans with an 'alpha pair' which breed with the assistance of younger helpers.


They are usually seen in well-wooded areas where the group keep in touch with a complex set of over 20 vocalisations.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
  3. Sinclair, I and P Ryan. 2003. Birds of Africa South of the Sahara. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0691118154
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved April 2019)
  5. Birdforum Member observations

Recommended Citation

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