The yellow-browed bulbul (Acritillas indica) is a species of bulbul found in the forests of southern India and Sri Lanka. It is mainly yellow on the underside and olive above with a distinct yellow brow. They are easily located by their loud calls but tend to skulk within foliage below the forest canopy. Three subspecies are recognised within its range and its generic placement has changed over time with some considering it as a sole species in the genus Acritillas.
This bulbul is about 20 cm (7 inches) long, lacks a crest and has the upperparts olive green with a prominent yellow brow and goggle with the underparts being all yellow. The sexes do not differ in plumage. The bill is black and the iris is reddish brown. The population in the northern Western Ghats (ssp. icterica) is paler yellow than the populations further south (ssp. indica). A somewhat disjunct population is found in the Eastern Ghats. Southwestern Sri Lankan populations (ssp. gugliemi) are greener while the northern populations are included in the nominate subspecies.
The species was first described by T. C. Jerdon on the basis of specimens from the Wynaad region and given the name of Trichophorus indicus in 1839. Strickland described Criniger ictericus on the basis of a specimen that was later identified as being from Mahabaleshwar and this name has been used for the subspecies name given for the populations of the northern Western Ghats (north of Goa). The placement Iole icterica and Iole indica has been used by many works but a study of the genus Iole suggests that this species is exceptional suggesting its removal and placement in the monotypic genus Acritillas erected by Oberholser.
Habitat and distribution
The yellow-browed bulbul has been considered as the wet-zone counterpart of the dry-zone white-browed bulbul. It is found mainly below the forest canopy of the hill forests and plantations in the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. They also occur in parts of the Eastern Ghats including the Kolli hills, Nallamalas and parts of Tirupathi and Mamandur regions in Andhra Pradesh.
Behaviour and ecology
Yellow-browed bulbuls are found in pairs or small groups and call loudly. The calls include a whistle like calls and sharp pick-wick notes. They feed mainly on berries and insects. The breeding season is during the dry spell before the monsoons, mainly January to May. The nest is a cup built in a low fork covered with moss and cobwebs on the outside, giving the appearance of a large White-eye nest, and lined with fine root fibres. The typical clutch is 3 eggs in India and 2 in Sri Lanka. In Silent Valley National Park of India 92.16% of nests (of 153 nests) were having two eggs. Peak breeding in the Silent Valley National Park of Kerala was found in January and February. About a week is taken for building the nest and the eggs are incubated for about 13 days. The eggs are pale pink or white with reddish brown speckling. The eggs hatch synchronously and the nestlings fledge after about 13 days. Nestlings are fed with caterpillars, soft insects and berries.
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