|bird skin specimen at Naturalis Biodiversity Center|
Taxonomy and systematics
The placement of this species and genus within the passerines is uncertain. It has been suggested that it belongs with the whistlers, in the family Pachycephalidae, based on its bright yellow plumage and voice, and the species is sometimes known as the dwarf whistler. Others have suggested placing it with the Australasian robins in the family Petroicidae, but the nest architecture is unlike that of the family; in fact its nests more closely resemble those of the thornbills in the family Acanthizidae, another family to which it has sometimes been aligned. This relationship was supported by a 2009 molecular study which placed the species in that family. There are four subspecies.
Range and distribution
The species is endemic to the island of New Guinea, where it occurs in both Papua and Papua New Guinea. The preferred habitat of the goldenface is hill and montane forest, between 400 and 1800 m; it is usually commoner in dense forest between 1800 and 1600 m.
The goldenface is a small whistler, around 13 cm in length and weighing 14–19 g. The plumage of the species is striking; the nominate subspecies has a slate grey back, tail, wing, cap and back of the neck and bright yellow face, throat, breast and belly. From the crown to the shoulder the face is bordered with a black line, and the terital feathers of the wing are tipped with black and white. The eye and bill is black and the legs are pink. There is a small amount of sexual dimorphism, with the female resembling the male closely except in having a dusky patch on the face. Immature birds of either sexes resemble the female. The three other subspecies resemble the nominate subspecies with minor differences. The subspecies P. f. subaurantium has darker upperparts and a slight orange tint. P. f. randi has much oranger underparts and face, and P. f. subpallidiumm has much paler upperparts and the most yellow undersides. The identification of goldenface study skins held in museum collections is complicated by the tendency of the plumage colours used to identify the subspecies fading after death.
Insects and spiders form the majority of the diet of this species. These prey items are gleaned from the outer foliage of trees, usually in the mid-story, sometimes entering the top stories of the forest. Goldenfaces will sometimes join mixed-species feeding flocks when foraging.
Little is known about the breeding biology of the goldenface. It may be slightly seasonal; birds in breeding condition have been found in August and October, and eggs and nestlings have been found in from June to November. The nest, which is built by both parents, is globular in shape and has a downward pointing side entrance.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Pachycare flavogriseum". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Christie D. (editors). (2007). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-96553-42-2
- Norman, Janette; Walter E. Boles; Les Christidis (2009). "Relationships of the New Guinean songbird genera Amalocichla and Pachycare based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences". Journal of Avian Biology. 40 (6): 640–645. doi:10.1111/j.1600-048X.2009.04722.x.