Backyard Birds

Black-crested Bulbuls

The Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus melanicterus, is a member of the bulbul family of passerine birds.

There are several distinctive taxa that generally have been considered subspecies of the Black-crested Bulbul, but increasingly are treated as separate species (and actually were considered separate species originally):

  • the Ruby-throated Bulbul (P. dispar) from Sumatra and Java is virtually crestless, has a deep red throat and reddish eyes,
  • the Flame-throated Bulbul (P. gularis) from the Western Ghats in India is virtually crestless, has an orange-red throat and whitish eyes
  • the Black-capped Bulbul (P. melanicterus) from Sri Lanka is virtually crestless, has a yellow throat and brownish eyes, and
  • the Bornean Bulbul (P. montis) from Borneo has a black crest, yellow throat and brownish eyes.

Confusingly, P. gularis has also been referred to as the Ruby-throated Bulbul.

When all of the above are considered separate species, the Black-crested Bulbul is found from eastern Indian east to Vietnam and south to Peninsular Malaysia, and has a black crest, red or black throat and whitish eye

Distribution / Range:

It is found in southern Asia from India and Sri Lanka east to Indonesia.

This is a bird of forest and dense scrub.


It builds its nest in a bush; two to four eggs is a typical clutch.

Diet / Feeding:

The Black-crested Bulbul feeds on fruit and insects.


The Black-crested Bulbul is about 19 cm in length, including its relatively long tail. It has olive upperparts and yellow or olive-yellow underparts. The head is black. Males and females look alike in plumage, but young birds are duller than adults. The flight is bouncing and woodpecker-like.

BulbulsBulbul Photo Gallery


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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