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Red-whiskered Bulbul

Pycnonotus jocosus

Length: 7 inches Wingspan: 11 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Obvious crest, dark brown upperparts, white underparts, red undertail coverts, black streak on side of breast, white "cheek"

Red-whiskered Bulbul - Pycnonotus jocosusThe Red-whiskered Bulbul is native to India and other parts of Asia, but they have been widely introduced in areas around the world.  In the United States, a population has become established near Kendall, Florida.  There, they survive in an artifical habitat with exotic landscaping plants that provide year-round sources of fruits and berries. Despite being introduced in the area in the 1960s, the population remains small and they have not spread far from the site of original introduction.  It is very possible they cannot thrive in North America outside of artificial habitats with introduced exotic plants to support them.  A small wild population has also been established in Los Angeles, and they are more common around Honolulu in Hawaii.

Habitat: In the North American part of its range, they are mostly found in suburban areas with significant plantings of tropical plants with berries and fruits. 

Diet: Feeds heavily on fruits and berries.  The bill is relatively small and weak for a fruit eater, and they are limited to fruits that are soft enough to easily tear, or to berries of a small enough size to consume whole.  Red-whiskered Bulbuls also feed heavily on insects, and they will take nectar from flowers.

Behavior: While solitary in nesting, at other seasons, they move in flocks, relocating to areas with fruiting plants.  When hunting for insects, they climb through the foliage of plants or fly out to capture flying insects in mid-air.

Nesting: The nest of a Red-whiskered Bulbul is a cup made of grasses, leaves, and fine roots.  It is placed in a shrub or low in a tree, usually within 10 feet of the ground.  Both the male and female help to incubate the eggs, and both parents feed and tend to the young after hatching.

Song: The song of a Red-whiskered Bulbul is a loud but musical chattering.

Migration: Considered a permanent resident throughout its native range in Eurasia.  Populations introduced in North America are also non-migratory.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Red-whiskered Bulbul sightings

Similar Species: Generally distinctive if seen well.

Feeders: Will attend feeders for berries and soft fruits.

Conservation Status: The Red-whiskered Bulbul has a very large native range, and while local declines have been noted in many areas, in other areas they are common.  In North America, the introduced populations established in the Miami and Los Angeles area are vulnerable to extirpation, as populations remain small and the range of the species hasn't spread much since introduction.  On a global scale though, the IUCN lists the Red-whiskered Bulbul as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) Birding - Red-whiskered Bulbul

2) - Red-whiskered Bulbul

3) USGS Bird InfoCenter - Red-whiskered Bulbul

Photo Information: Photo taken by Lip Kee - April 14th, 2008 - India - Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike 2.0 Generic License.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Red-whiskered Bulbul - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Red-whiskered Bulbul Photos (coming soon!)