Red-Whiskered Bulbul Fact File

Pycnonotus jocosus








Wild 4 years

Captive 4 years



Fruits, Insects, Berries

Conservation Status


Least Concern

Red-whiskered bulbuls are named for the patch of red feathers which is present behind each of their eyes.

They are omnivores which will feed on a range of fruits, insects, berries and seedlings. The size of food they can eat is limited by the size of the beak.

These birds have established a wide range across the globe due to releases from the pet trade. They are native to Asia but have now spread to Australia, the United States and parts of Asia where they were not originally found.

Populations of red-whiskered bulbuls are under threat from collection for the pet trade.

Learn more about these brilliant birds by reading on below.


The red whiskered bulbul is named for the small red patch extending back from the eye. This is present on both the male and female. The remainder of the check is white while the rest of the head is colored black. A crest extends upwards from the back of the head.

Across the wings and back they are colored brownish with the undersides being buff. The vent area features another splash of red feathers.

They have short legs and toes with little strength, they are colored black. The eyes are colored dark brown.

An average red-whiskered bulbul will measure 20cm (8in) long.


Red-whiskered bulbuls are omnivores which primarily feed on berries , seedlings, and fruits. Juveniles will also feed on insects such as caterpillars.

Their small beak size limits the size of the foods they can eat.

Much of their foraging occurs in the trees but they can also catch insects while flying.

Red-Whiskered Bulbul


Asia is the native home of the red-whiskered bulbul. Here they naturally occur in Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand and Viet Nam.

Introduced populations of this species have established in Australia; Mauritius; Réunion; Saudi Arabia; Seychelles; Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. In the United States they can be found in Florida and are also present on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.


Red-whiskered bulbuls make their home in forest, shrubland and wetlands. They will also live alongside humans in suburban areas and backyards.

These birds are considered resident and rarely migrate.

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Breeding takes place across much of their range from January to August.

Red-whiskered bulbuls will court a potential partner by fluttering their wings and bowing to the other bird. They will also lower and raise their crests repeatedly at one another.

The nest is shaped like a cup and formed from vegetation and placed in the fork of a branch. In to this nest they deposit between two and five eggs. These feature a pinkish background with reddish brown or purple spots.

At hatching young lack feathers and the eyes are closed for the first few days of life. Nestlings fledge at fourteen to eighteen days. They may be fed by the parents for a few days after this. Both parents work together to feed the young.

Pairs may raise two to three broods each season.


Red-whiskered bulbuls spend much of their time sitting on the same perch and singing. This is especially common at the start of the breeding season. They are loud birds which create a range of warbling songs.

Much of their time is spent in the trees where they will forage for food.

Flocks of these birds will travel to together to feed for the most of the year. In the breeding season they will separate out in to pairs to establish their nests. These average 3 to 5 members though some with up to 50 have been recorded.

Red-Whiskered Bulbul

Predators and Threats

These animals are popular aviary birds both in their range and across the world. This has been the source of their introduction to a number of countries including Australia.

The population of this species has been assisted by releases to a number of additional countries worldwide.

Hunting has led to a decline in their population but a full population estimate has not been created.

Quick facts

Bulbul is an Arabic word meaning nightingale.

Red-Whiskered Bulbul

Photo Credits


Nafis Ameen, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle One and Two

Public Domain


Challiyan, CC BY-SA 2.5 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Alderton, D. and Barrett, P., 2019. The complete illustrated encyclopedia of birds of the world. Lorenz Books.

BirdLife International. 2017. Pycnonotus jocosus (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22712634A119273079. Downloaded on 11 August 2021.

Honolulu Zoo Society. 2021. Red-whiskered Bulbul - Honolulu Zoo Society. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 August 2021].

Audubon. 2021. Red-whiskered Bulbul. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 August 2021].

Bouglouan, N., 2021. Red-whiskered Bulbul. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 August 2021].

The Australian Museum. 2021. Red-whiskered Bulbul. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 August 2021]. 2021. Red-whiskered bulbul: animal pest alert | Agriculture and Food. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 August 2021].

Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission. 2021. Red-whiskered Bulbul. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 August 2021].

Virily. 2021. The Red whiskered Bulbul Facts. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 August 2021].

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