Common bulbul

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Common bulbul
Common bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus inornatus).jpg
P. b. inornatus, Bukau Forest, Gambia
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Pycnonotidae
Genus: Pycnonotus
P. barbatus
Binomial name
Pycnonotus barbatus
(Desfontaines, 1789)
  • Turdus barbatus
Exemplar in Kruger National Park, South Africa

The common bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus) is a member of the bulbul family of passerine birds. It is found in north-eastern, northern, western and central Africa.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

The common bulbul was originally described in the genus Turdus. Some authorities treat the Somali, Dodson's and dark-capped bulbul as subspecies of the common bulbul.[2] The common bulbul is considered to belong to a superspecies along with the Himalayan bulbul, white-eared bulbul, white-spectacled bulbul, African red-eyed bulbul, and the Cape bulbul.[3] Alternate names for the common bulbul include the black-eyed bulbul, brown bulbul (also used for the Asian red-eyed bulbul), brown-capped geelgat, common garden bulbul, garden bulbul and white-vented bulbul as well as one name used for another species (yellow-vented bulbul).


Five subspecies are recognized:[4]

  • P. b. barbatus(Desfontaines, 1789): Alternate names for the nominate race include Barbary bulbul and North-west African garden bulbul. Found from Morocco to Tunisia
  • Upper Guinea bulbul (P. b. inornatus) – (Fraser, 1843): Originally described as a separate species in the genus Ixos. Found from southern Mauritania and Senegal to western Chad and northern Cameroon
  • Gabon bulbul (P. b. gabonensis) – Sharpe, 1871: Originally described as a separate species. Found from central Nigeria and central Cameroon to Gabon and southern Congo
  • Egyptian bulbul (P. b. arsinoe) – (Lichtenstein, MHK, 1823): Originally described as a separate species in the genus Turdus. Alternately named the Sahel garden bulbul. Found in eastern Chad, northern and central Sudan and eastern Egypt
  • Abyssinian bulbul (P. b. schoanus) – Neumann, 1905: Not to be confused with an alternate name for the Somali bulbul. Found in south-eastern Sudan, western, central and eastern Ethiopia, Eritrea


The bill is fairly short and thin, with a slightly downcurving upper mandible. The bill, legs, and feet are black and the eye is dark brown with a dark eye-ring, which is not readily visible. It is about 18 cm in length, with a long tail. It has a dark brown head and upperparts. Sexes are similar in plumage.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Eggs of Pycnonotus barbatus inornatus MHNT

It is a common resident breeder in much of Africa, and it has recently been found breeding in southern Spain at Tarifa.[2] It is found in woodland, coastal bush, forest edges, riverine bush, montane scrub, and in mixed farming habitats. It is also found in exotic thickets, gardens, and parks.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

The common bulbul is usually seen in pairs or small groups. It is a conspicuous bird, which tends to sit at the top of a bush. As with other bulbuls they are active and noisy birds. The flight is bouncing and woodpecker-like. The call is a loud doctor-quick doctor-quick be-quick be-quick.


This species nests throughout the year in the moist tropics, elsewhere it is a more seasonal breeder with a peak in breeding coinciding with the onset of the rainy season. The nest is fairly rigid, thick walled, and cup-shaped. It is situated inside the leafy foliage of a small tree or shrub.

Two or three eggs is a typical clutch. It, like other bulbuls, is parasitised by the Jacobin cuckoo.


This species eats fruit, nectar, seeds and insects.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Pycnonotus barbatus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T22712650A94342018. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22712650A94342018.en. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus)". Fishpool, L. & Tobias, J. (2017). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Himalayan Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucogenys)". Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  4. ^ "Bulbuls « IOC World Bird List". Retrieved 2017-03-26.

External links[edit]