Bornean bristlehead

Pityriasis gymnocephala subfamily

Pityriasinae taxonomy

Barita gymnocephala Temminck, 1835, Borneo. Monotypic. other common names

English: Bald-headed woodshrike; French: Barite chauve; German: Warzenkopf; Spanish: Alcaudón de Borneo.

physical characteristics

10-11 in (26-28 cm). Thickset, massive-billed, and stumpy-tailed. Dusky body; black wings, tail, and bill; and red, mostly bare head with a patch of orange-yellow stubble on the crown, another of streaky brown over the ears, and a fringe of scarlet feathering on upper back and breast; lower breast also covered in bristle-like brown and red feathers. Females have a red patch on the flanks. Eyes are chestnut and feet distinctively yellow.


Lowland Borneo up to altitudes of about 3,900 ft (1,200 m). habitat

Mature lowlands and swamp rainforests.


Patchy throughout range, bristleheads appear to reside in one area, where they work through the mid-strata of forests in noisy groups. Little is known of their behavior. They are ponderous in movement, hopping among branches and crouching

and peering into crannies in search of food. Flight is direct, on fast and shallowly beating wings. Calls, presumably given for social cohesion, comprise strange nasal whines, honks, and chortles; members of a group also will chorus, jumbling calls loudly together.

feeding ecology and diet

Primarily predatory insectivores, gleaning gregariously among branches and trunk crannies in forest midstage for food. Diet comprises large insects, such as arboreal beetles, grasshoppers, bugs, cockroaches, and larvae. Birds will also gather around recent clearings in search of exposed food.

reproductive biology

Little is understood about pair bonding and nest-building duties, nor is the nest and its site described. Eggs are whitish, sparingly blotched with rich brown and slate-gray mostly at the larger end.

conservation status

Listed as Near Threatened due to occurrence in mature rainforests in areas under threat of extensive deforestation.

significance to humans None known. ♦

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