Common bulbul

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Common bulbul
Pycnonotus barbatus by Lip Kee Yap.jpg
P. b. subsp. layardi near Kilimanjaro
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Pycnonotidae
Genus: Pycnonotus
Species: P. barbatus
Binomial name
Pycnonotus barbatus
(Desfontaines, 1789)
Pycnonotus barbatus distribution map.png
     global native range

The common bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus) is a member of the bulbul family of passerine birds. It is a ubiquitous resident breeder throughout Africa. Other names include black-eyed bulbul and common garden bulbul.


P. b. subsp. tricolor in Johannesburg, South Africa

The bulbuls are a widespread family of songbirds, found much over Africa and Asia.

The common bulbul has a number of subspecies; some authorities consider P. b. dodsoni (Dodson’s bulbul), P. b. somaliensis (Somali bulbul) and P. b. tricolor (dark-capped bulbul) as separate species from the nominate P. b. barbatus.


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.

The dark-capped bulbul is mostly greyish-brown above and whitish-brown below, with a distinctive dark head and pointy crest on top of the head. The back of the head merges into the brown of the back, and the chin is also blackish. The underparts are grey-brown apart from white around the vent (yellow in P. b. tricolor). It is about 18 cm in length, with a long tail. It has a dark brown head and upperparts. Sexes are similar in plumage.

Habitat and breeding[edit]

Eggs of Pycnonotus barbatus barbatus MHNT

It is a common resident breeder in much of Africa. 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.

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.


Individual calling in a suburban area

The black-eyed 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 eats fruit, nectar, and insects.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Pycnonotus barbatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 

External links[edit]