The Sombre Greenbul is a shy species, often more easily heard than seen. They are usually encountered singly or in pairs, feeding on insects and other invertebrates as well as ripe fruit and berries, nectar and flowers. They prefer dense habitats, ranging from forests to thickets in coastal scrub, where they usually move around in the middle and upper levels, and has adapted well to densely planted suburban gardens. Sombre Greenbuls breed in spring and summer, building their cup-shaped nests amongst dense leaves quite high above the ground.
The IUCN lists the Sombre Greenbul as being of least concern. It is distributed along Africa’s Indian Ocean coastline and adjacent hinterland from Somalia to South Africa, where it is to be seen in the Western and Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal and the Lowveld and Escarpment of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.