Backyard Birds

Brown-eared Bulbuls

The Brown-eared Bulbuls (Microscelis amaurotis) is a medium-sized bulbul that is also known as hiyodori in Japan, where it is very common.

Distribution / Range

Its range extends froms the Russian Far East (including Sakhalin), northeastern China, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan, south to Taiwan and the Babuyan and Batanes island chains in the north of the Philippines, It occasionally occurs in Luzon.

It is common in Japan, but rare in Taiwan, where it is limited to Orchid Island.

These migratory birds move to the southern parts of its range in winter, but they have taken advantage of changes in crops and farming practices in recent decades to overwinter in areas farther north.

However, most Brown-eared Bulbuls still move south in winter, often forming huge flocks during migration.


Brown-eared Bulbuls reach a length of about 28cm including its long tail. The plumage is mostly greyish-brown, with brown cheeks or “ears” – hence its common name.

Calls / Vocalizations

These are historically forest birds, but have adapted well to urban and rural environments, and their noisy squeaking calls are a familiar sound in most areas of Japan.

Diet / Feeding

Brown-eared Bulbuls primarily feed on insects, while they primarily take fruits and seeds in the fall and winter.

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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