Grey-necked rockfowl -- 灰颈岩鹛 (Picathartes oreas)

Grey-necked rockfowl
Loading more images and videos...

Grey-necked rockfowl fact file

Grey-necked rockfowl description

GenusPicathartes (1)

A member of the old world flycatcher family, the grey-necked rockfowl has no feathers on its brightly coloured head, which is violet at the front, red at the back, and has black side patches. The upperparts and the throat are slate grey, and the underparts are pale orange. The rockfowl is slender with a long neck, tail and legs. The bill is crow-like and the feet are strong for hopping (4). The wings can be black, brown or dark grey, and the tail feathers are grey (2).

Also known as
grey-necked picathartes, red-headed rockfowl.
Picatharte à cou gris, Picatharte à tête rouge, Picatharte du Cameroun.
Cuervo Calvo de Cuello Gris, Picatartes Cuelligris.
Length: 35 cm (2)

Grey-necked rockfowl biology

A non-migratory bird, the grey-necked rockfowl flies only short distances, preferring to hop along the rocky forest floor between trees, where it picks up insects, molluscs, frogs and lizards to eat, as well as feeding on passing ant columns (4). Whilst the bird is silent when foraging, it has a breathy shisss call as well as other clucks and clicks (6).

Mud nests are often built in colonies within caves or on cliffs surrounded by vegetation (5). Two eggs are laid per clutch (4). Little is known of the reproductive biology of this extremely elusive bird (6).


Grey-necked rockfowl range

The grey-necked rockfowl is found in southern Cameroon, south-western Gabon, north-western Equatorial Guinea, north-western Congo and on Bioko Island. Whilst the range covers 314,000 km², it is known to be highly fragmented with a population of 2,500 to 10,000 (5).


Grey-necked rockfowl habitat

Inhabiting sub-tropical and tropical forests, this species has very specific nesting site requirements (1). Nests are built on cliffs or in caves with overhanging rocks above for shelter from the rain and a sheer drop beneath for protection from predators (4).


Grey-necked rockfowl status

The grey-necked rockfowl is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1), and is listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Grey-necked rockfowl threats

Habitat loss and degradation pose a major threat to this species, especially as its range is becoming increasingly fragmented (1). Studies of a Cameroon reserve have revealed that cocoa, coffee and subsistence plots are impinging on the forest, and hunting continues despite its ban. Mining operations and the possible routing of a trans-African highway are current threats (7). The lack of breeding sites, as well as cannibalism and predation of young contribute to poor breeding success for the grey-necked rockfowl (6).


Grey-necked rockfowl conservation

The grey-necked rockfowl is found in reserves throughout its range (6), where it is protected from hunting, and its habitat is protected from logging and increasing agricultural development (7). Indeed, in some reserves, guard posts have been set up to deter poachers and illegal loggers (7). Proposed conservation management includes surveys to establish the population density in suitable habitats, as well as genetic studies to assess the size of the breeding population and the degree of inbreeding as a result of range fragmentation (6).

To help conserve this species by working in the field with Earthwatch, click here.
View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on this species see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



A group of organisms living together, individuals in the group are not physiologically connected and may not be related, such as a colony of birds. Another meaning refers to organisms, such as bryozoans, which are composed of numerous genetically identical modules (also referred to as zooids or ‘individuals’), which are produced by budding and remain physiologically connected.


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2004)
  2. Erritzoe, J. (1993) The Birds of CITES and how to identify them. The Lutterworth Press, Cambridge.
  3. CITES (November, 2004)
  4. Fact Index (November, 2004)
  5. Earthwatch (November, 2004)
  6. BirdLife (November, 2004)
  7. UNEP-WCMC (November, 2004)

Image credit

Grey-necked rockfowl  
Grey-necked rockfowl

© Tasso Leventis / BirdLife International

BirdLife International
Wellbrook Court
Girton Road
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1223 279813
Fax: +44 1 223 277200


Link to this photo

Arkive species - Grey-necked rockfowl (Picathartes oreas) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top