Red-vented bulbul

Red-vented bulbul

Pycnonotus cafer

Common name:

Red-vented bulbul

Scientific name:

Pycnonotus cafer

Alternative common names:


The red-vented bulbul, although notterritorial, is often considered an aggressive bird. It will displace other birds from theirterritoriesand competes directly for food. Thus, in areas where the red-vented bulbul has been introduced, this species can have very negative effects on local birds. In addition, the abundance of the red-vented bulbul in agricultural areas and gardens, where it destroys flowers, fruits and vegetables and may help spread the seeds of invasive plants, has resulted in its reputation as a pest.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Southern Asia

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 2

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Not known

How does it spread?

Pet trade. Introduction is usually blamed on the release, either intentional or accidental, of caged birds.

Why is it a problem?

Red vented bulbuls are known to cause significant damage to fruit and vegetable crops and aggressively chase and attack other birds. They will feed on native fruits, berries, insects, flower nectar, seeds and buds displacing species by their aggressive competitive nature. They may also help in the spread of seeds of other invasive species.

What does it look like?

Description: The red vented bulbul is a medium-sized bird about the same size as a starling (20 cm). Red vented bulbuls are active birds with a generally dark in appearance with a white abdomen and rump and a distinctive crimson-red patch beneath its tail. The upper parts are generally smoke-brown to black with each feather being darker in the centre, giving a scaled appearance. The head is partially crested and black, the throat is black and the under parts are grey white. The breast is dark and faintly scaled, the under-tail coverts are red, the tail is brown with a white tip and the bill is black. The immature bird is similar in appearance to the adult except there is some brownish edging on the feathers.

Habitat: Brushy pastures, open thickets, and weedy fields.

Breeding: The red-vented bulbul may breed year-round, although breeding activity peaks between January and October. It is thought to have up to three broods within a year, with each brood typically containing two to four eggs.

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