Sombre greenbul

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Sombre greenbul
Sombre greenbul, Andropadus importunus.jpg
Scientific classification
Swainson, 1832
A. importunus
Binomial name
Andropadus importunus
(Vieillot, 1818)
Andropadus importunus distribution map.png


  • Charitillas


  • Pycnonotus importunus
  • Turdus importunus

The sombre greenbul (Andropadus importunus) is a member of the bulbul family of passerine birds. It is a resident breeder in coastal bush, evergreen forest and dry shrub land in eastern and southern Africa. It is the only member of the genus Andropadus.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

Eighteen species of greenbuls originally described in the genus Andropadus were re-classified to the genera Arizelocichla, Stelgidillas and Eurillas in 2010.[2] This has left Andropadus as a monotypic genus with the sombre greenbul remaining as its sole extant species.[3]

The sombre greenbul was originally described in the genus Turdus and was later re-classified to the genus Andropadus. Alternatively, some authorities classify the sombre greenbul in the genus Pycnonotus. Alternate names for the sombre greenbul include the sombre bulbul, southern sombre bulbul and southern sombre greenbul.[4]


Four subspecies of the sombre greenbul are recognized:[3]

  • Zanzibar sombre greenbul (A. i. insularis) - Hartlaub, 1861: Originally described as a separate species. Includes Frick's greenbul which was also originally described as a separate species. Found from southern Ethiopia and southern Somalia to eastern Tanzania
  • Transvaal sombre greenbul (A. i. importunus) - (Vieillot, 1818): Found from the highlands of northern South Africa and western Swaziland south along coast to Western Cape
  • Endoto sombre greenbul (A. i. oleaginus) - Peters, W, 1868: Found in southern Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique and lowland northern South Africa
  • A. i. hypoxanthus - Sharpe, 1876: Found in south-eastern Tanzania to central Mozambique, central Zimbabwe and south-central Zambia

Former species[edit]

Formerly, some authorities also considered the following species (or subspecies) as species within the genus Andropadus:


The sombre greenbul is 15–18 cm long, with mainly dull greyish olive-green plumage, paler on the underparts than above. There are variations in colour based on habitat range. Individuals located in southern Africa tend to be plain, olive-green. To the north, birds are yellower with greener upper parts.[27] It has a white iris. The sexes are similar in plumage, but juveniles are even duller than the adult and have dark, grey eyes.[27] There is no colour distinction among sexes.[27] The subspecies A. i. hypoxanthus is much yellower below than the nominate subspecies.

The sombre greenbul is a vocal species, and the most typical call is a monotonous, ringing phrase starting with a penetrating single whistle weeeewee, followed by a jumbled chortle and ending off with a rather plaintive, drawn out whistle willy. If agitated, a call of peeet peeet peeet repeatedly is likely to be heard.[27]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

The sombre greenbul is a common bird, which tends to stay hidden in foliage and is more often heard than seen. It is usually found in pairs or small groups foraging for insects, fruit and small snails.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Andropadus importunus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T22712795A94349457. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22712795A94349457.en. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Taxonomy Version 2 « IOC World Bird List". Retrieved 2017-04-02.
  3. ^ a b "Bulbuls « IOC World Bird List". Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  4. ^ "Andropadus importunus - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  5. ^ "Arizelocichla masukuensis - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-02.
  6. ^ "Arizelocichla kakamegae - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-02.
  7. ^ "Arizelocichla montana - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  8. ^ "Arizelocichla tephrolaema - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  9. ^ "Arizelocichla kikuyuensis - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  10. ^ "Arizelocichla nigriceps - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  11. ^ "Arizelocichla neumanni - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  12. ^ "Arizelocichla fusciceps - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-05.
  13. ^ "Arizelocichla chlorigula - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-05.
  14. ^ "Arizelocichla milanjensis - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  15. ^ "Arizelocichla olivaceiceps - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  16. ^ "Arizelocichla striifacies - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-06.
  17. ^ "Stelgidillas gracilirostris - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  18. ^ "Eurillas virens [incl. hallae] - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  19. ^ "Eurillas gracilis - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  20. ^ "Eurillas ansorgei - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  21. ^ "Eurillas ansorgei kavirondensis - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  22. ^ "Eurillas curvirostris - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  23. ^ "Eurillas latirostris - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  24. ^ "Chlorocichla laetissima - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  25. ^ "Chlorocichla falkensteini - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-04-16.
  26. ^ "Phyllastrephus flavostriatus flavostriatus - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-05-06.
  27. ^ a b c d Newman, Vanessa (2010). Newman's Birds of Southern Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: Pippa Parker. p. 348. ISBN 9781770078789.

External links[edit]