Backyard Birds

Grey-headed Bulbuls

The Grey-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus priocephalus is a member of the bulbul family of passerine birds. It is endemic to the Western Ghats of southwest India, found from Goa south to Tamil Nadu, at altitudes up to 1200m.

Found singly or in small groups. Breeds from February to June. The nest is placed in a low bush. Feeds mainly on fruits. The call is a sharp chraink.


This bulbul is resident in moist broadleaved evergreen forest with bamboo and dense undergrowth. Its plumage is olive-green, with a medium-grey head, yellow-green forehead, black chin, and grey tail.

Its bill and irises are pale yellow. The upper rump and lower back have blackish bars. The tail is grey with black outer feathers broadly tipped grey.

Both sexes are similar but juveniles have the head dark olive with the yellow on the forehead duller. (Length 143-152mm; head 33-35mm; tail 74-77mm)

The following description is from Eugene William Oates, Fauna of British India. Birds. Volume 1:

forehead olive-yellow; chin blackish; cheeks greyish yellow; remainder of head clear bluish grey; upper side of neck, back, and scapulars (shoulder feathers) olive-green; rump-feathers black with broad pale yellow tips; upper tail-coverts and the four middle tail-feathers bluish grey with dark shafts, the others black, broadly edged on both webs and tipped with bluish grey, the whole suffused with olive-green on the basal two-thirds of their length; wings black, all the quills and coverts margined with olive -green, the outer webs of the tertiaries being entire of this color; breast, abdomen, and flanks oil-yellow; under tail-coverts bluish grey. Iris blue-grey; bill pale green; legs and feet fleshy tinged orange; claws dusky (Davison).


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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