The bulbuls are a family, Pycnonotidae, of medium-sized passerine songbirds. Many forest species are known as greenbuls, brownbuls, leafloves, or bristlebills. The family is distributed across most of Africa and into the Middle East, tropical Asia to Indonesia, and north as far as Japan. Bulbuls homeland is Iraq . A few insular species occur on the tropical islands of the Indian Ocean There are over 150 species in 27 genera. While some species are found in most habitats, the African species are predominantly found in rainforest. Rainforest species are rare in Asia, however, with Asian bulbuls preferring more open areas.

Brown-eared Bulbul 1
Brown-eared bulbul (Hypsipetes amaurotis)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Infraorder: Passerida
Family: Pycnonotidae
Gray, GR, 1840

See text

  • Brachypodidae Swainson, 1831
  • Trichophoridae Swainson, 1831
  • Ixosidae Bonaparte, 1838
  • Hypsipetidae Bonaparte, 1854
  • Crinigeridae Bonaparte, 1854 (1831)
  • Phyllastrephidae Milne-Edwards & Grandidier, 1879
  • Tyladidae Oberholser, 1917
  • Spizixidae Oberholser, 1919

Taxonomy and systematics


The word bulbul derives from Persian or Arabic (بلبل),[1][2] meaning nightingale,[3] but in English, bulbul refers to passerine birds of a different family.


The traditional layout was to divide the bulbuls into four groups, named Pycnonotus, Phyllastrephus, Criniger, and Chlorocichla groups after characteristic genera (Delacour, 1943). However, more recent analyses demonstrated that this arrangement was probably based on erroneous interpretation of characteristics.

Comparison of mtDNA cytochrome b sequences found that five species of Phyllastrephus did not belong to the bulbuls, but to an enigmatic group of songbirds from Madagascar instead (Cibois et al., 2001; see below for the species in question), and they are now usually referred to as Malagasy warblers. Similarly, sequence analysis of the nDNA RAG1 and RAG2 genes suggests that the genus Nicator is not a bulbul either (Beresford et al., 2005). That the previous arrangement had failed to take into account biogeography was indicated by the study of Pasquet et al. (2001) who demonstrated the genus Criniger must be divided into an African and an Asian (Alophoixus) lineage. Using analysis of one nDNA and 2 mtDNA sequences, Moyle & Marks (2006) found one largely Asian lineage and one African group of greenbuls and bristlebills; the golden greenbul seemes to be very distinct and form a group of its own. Some taxa are not monophyletic, and more research is necessary to determine relationships within the larger genera.

Systematic list

Currently, there are 27 genera recognized:[4]

  • Genus Nok – bare-faced bulbul
  • Genus Spizixos – finchbills (2 species)


Bulbuls are short-necked slender passerines. The tails are long and the wings short and rounded. In almost all species the bill is slightly elongated and slightly hooked at the end. They vary in length from 13 cm for the tiny greenbul to 29 cm in the straw-headed bulbul. Overall the sexes are alike, although the females tend to be slightly smaller. In a few species the differences are so great that they have been described as functionally different species. The soft plumage of some species is colorful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throat or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive-brown to black plumage. Species with dull coloured eyes often sport contrasting eyerings. Some have very distinct crests. Bulbuls are highly vocal, with the calls of most species being described as nasal or gravelly. One author described the song of the brown-eared bulbul as "the most unattractive noises made by any bird".[3]

Bulbul 2
Bulbul from Attappadi Plateau

Behaviour and ecology


The bulbuls are generally monogamous. One unusual exception is the yellow-whiskered greenbul which at least over part of its range appears to be polygamous and engage in a lekking system. Some species also have alloparenting arrangements, where non-breeders, usually the young from earlier clutches, help raise the young of a dominant breeding pair. Up to five purple-pink eggs are laid in an open tree nests and incubated by the female. Incubation usually lasts between 11–14 days, and chicks fledge after 12–16 days.


Bulbuls eat a wide range of foods, ranging from fruit to seeds, nectar, small insects and other arthropods and even small vertebrates. The majority of species are frugivorous and supplement their diet with some insects, although there is a significant minority of specialists, particularly in Africa. Open country species in particular are generalists. Bulbuls in the genus Criniger and bristlebills in the genus Bleda will join mixed-species feeding flocks.

Relationship to humans

The red-whiskered bulbuls and red-vented bulbuls have been captured for the pet trade in great numbers and, has been widely introduced to tropical and subtropical areas, for example southern Florida, Fiji, Australia and Hawaii. Some species are regarded as crop pests, particularly in orchards.

In general bulbuls and greenbuls are resistant to human pressures on the environment and are tolerant of disturbed habitat. Around 13 species are considered threatened by human activities, mostly specialised forest species threatened by habitat loss.


  • Beresford, P.; Barker, F.K.; Ryan, P.G.; Crowe, T.M. (2005). "African endemics span the tree of songbirds (Passeri): molecular systematics of several evolutionary 'enigmas'". Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B. 272 (1565): 849–858. doi:10.1098/rspb.2004.2997. PMC 1599865. PMID 15888418.
  • Cibois, Alice (2001). "AN ENDEMIC RADIATION OF MALAGASY SONGBIRDS IS REVEALED BY MITOCHONDRIAL DNA SEQUENCE DATA". Evolution. 55: 1198. doi:10.1554/0014-3820(2001)055[1198:AEROMS]2.0.CO;2.
  • Delacour, J (1943). "A revision of the genera and species of the family Pycnonotidae (bulbuls)". Zoologica. 28 (1): 17–28.
  • Fishpool L. & Tobias J. (2005) "Family Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls) in del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Christie D. (editors). (2005). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 10: Cuckoo-Shrikes to Thrushes. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-72-5
  • Moyle, Robert G. (2006). "Phylogenetic relationships of the bulbuls (Aves: Pycnonotidae) based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 40: 687–695. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.04.015.
  • Pasquet, Éric; Han, Lian-Xian; Khobkhet, Obhas; Cibois, Alice (2001). "Towards a molecular systematics of the genus Criniger, and a preliminary phylogeny of the bulbuls (Aves, Passeriformes, Pycnonotidae)" (PDF). Zoosystema. 23 (4): 857–863. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-16. Retrieved 2007-01-12.


  1. ^ Kordova, Shoshana (July 13, 2014). "Word of the Day / Bulbul: Just Don't Confuse the Bird With the Man". haaretz.com. Haaretz. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  2. ^ Klein, Ernest (1987). "A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of Hebrew Language" (PDF). Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Fishpool et al. (2005)
  4. ^ "Bulbuls « IOC World Bird List". www.worldbirdnames.org. Retrieved 2017-03-07.

External links

Black-crested bulbul

The black-crested bulbul (Pycnonotus flaviventris) is a member of the bulbul family of passerine birds. It is found from the Indian subcontinent to southeast Asia.

Black bulbul

The black bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus), also known as the Himalayan black bulbul or Asian black bulbul, is a member of the bulbul family of passerine birds. It is found in southern Asia from India east to southern China. It is the type species of the genus Hypsipetes, established by Nicholas Aylward Vigors in the early 1830s. There are a number of subspecies, mostly varying in the shade of the body plumage which ranges from grey to black, and some also occur in white-headed morphs, as also suggested by its specific epithet leucocephalus, literally "white head". The legs and bill are always rich orange-red.

Bulbul, Syria

Bulbul (Arabic: بلبل‎) is a village in northern Syria, administratively part of the Aleppo Governorate, located northwest of Aleppo near the Turkish border. Nearby localities include Maydan Ikbis to the west, Rajo to the southwest and Maabatli to the south.

Bulbul Ahmed

Bulbul Ahmed (born Tabarruk Ahmed; 15 September 1941 – 15 July 2010) was a Bangladeshi actor and director. He won the Bangladesh National Film Award for Best Actor award three times for his roles in the films Shimana Periye (1977), Bodhu Biday (1978) and Shesh Uttar (1980). Besides, he was the producer of the film Rajlakshmi Srikanta (1987) which won the Best Film award.

Bülbül yuvası

Bülbül yuvası (Turkish: bülbülyuvası, "nightingale's nest" ), is a Turkish phyllo dough dessert. It takes its name from its hollow and circular shape. Having been baked, warm syrup is sprinkled, and the hollow center is filled with pistachios before being served.

Common bulbul

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.

Golden greenbul

The golden greenbul (Calyptocichla serinus) is a member of the bulbul family of passerine birds found in western and central Africa. It is the only member of the genus Calyptocichla.

HMIS Jamnagar

Jamnagar was a 576 GRT coaster which was built in 1924 for Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar. In 1941 she entered service with the Royal Indian Navy. In 1944, she was sold into merchant service before being requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) and renamed Empire Bulbul. In 1947, she was sold into merchant service and renamed Hellenic Bulbul. The name Hellenic Bee had been allocated but she ran aground and sank before the proposed name change could be implemented.

Himalayan bulbul

The Himalayan bulbul (Pycnonotus leucogenys), or white-cheeked bulbul, is a species of songbird in the bulbul family found in central Asia.

Kya Huaa Tera Vaada

Kya Huaa Tera Vaada (English: What About Your Promise) is an Indian soap opera that premiered on 30 January 2012 and went off air on 23 May 2013, on Sony Entertainment Television India. It also airs on Sony Entertainment Television Asia. The show stars Mona Singh and Pawan Shankar as the protagonists and Mouli Ganguly as the antagonist. Kya Huaa Tera Vaada is produced by Balaji Telefilms of Ekta Kapoor.

Mountain bulbul

The mountain bulbul (Ixos mcclellandii) is a songbird species in the bulbul family, Pycnonotidae. It is often placed in Hypsipetes, but seems to be closer to the type species of the genus Ixos, the Sunda bulbul. It is found in Southeast Asia and is not considered a threatened species by the IUCN. It is named after British East India Company Surgeon John McClelland.

Mrunal Thakur

Mrunal Thakur is an Indian actress and model who appears in Bollywood, Marathi movies and Indian soap operas. She is known for her role as Bulbul in Kumkum Bhagya. She has played the lead role in Tabrez Noorani and David Womark's 2018 film Love Sonia.

Northern golden bulbul

The northern golden bulbul (Thapsinillas longirostris) is a species of songbird in the family Pycnonotidae. It is endemic to Indonesia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.


Pycnonotus is a paraphyletic genus of songbird in the bulbul family (Pycnonotidae).

Red-vented bulbul

The red-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) is a member of the bulbul family of passerines. It is resident breeder across the Indian subcontinent, including Sri Lanka extending east to Burma and parts of Tibet. It has been introduced in many other parts of the world and has established itself in the wild on several Pacific islands including Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Hawaii. It has also established itself in parts of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, the United States and Argentina. It is included in the list of the world's 100 worst invasive alien species.

Red-whiskered bulbul

The red-whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus), or crested bulbul, is a passerine bird found in Asia. It is a member of the bulbul family. It is a resident frugivore found mainly in tropical Asia. It has been introduced in many tropical areas of the world where populations have established themselves. It feeds on fruits and small insects. Red-whiskered bulbuls perch conspicuously on trees and have a loud three or four note call. They are very common in hill forests and urban gardens within its range.

True thrush

True thrushes are medium-sized mostly insectivorous or omnivorous birds in the genus Turdus of the wider thrush family, Turdidae. The genus name Turdus is Latin for "thrush". The term "thrush" is used for many other birds of the family Turdidae as well as for a number of species belonging to several other families.

The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution, with species in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Several species have also colonised some oceanic islands, and two species have been introduced to New Zealand. Some New World species are called robins, the most well known of which is the American robin. Several species are migratory.

While some species are often split out of Turdus, the two small thrushes formerly separated in Platycichla by many authors have been restored to the present genus in recent years.

White-eared bulbul

The white-eared bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis), or white-cheeked bulbul, or Iraqi bulbul, is a member of the bulbul family. It is found in south-western Asia from India to the Arabian peninsula. In Iraq many Iraqis owns the Iraqi bulbuls as pets, they are one of the most smartest and intelligent birds on earth.

Yellow-bellied bulbul

The yellow-bellied bulbul (Alophoixus phaeocephalus) is a species of songbird in the bulbul family, Pycnonotidae.

It is found on the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo.

Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.


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