Malaysian birds - Bulbul

This group of birds that form the Bulbuls is a true representative of birds we called passerine. That's also our impression of these birds, all of them  perch in an angular postures and they are noticeably good singers. The dictionary describe them as Songbird. But when a group of them are together, they are gregarious passerine birds. Yes, especially the Yellow-vented Bulbul that wakes me up every morning at 6.45 am with their noisy calls.

There are about 130 species of Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae).  Mainly found in Asia and Africa. They are frugivorous [fruit eaters],  drab colored birds with brown to black plumage.  Bulbul also eat many insects. Some exceptional Bulbuls do have more colorful yellow plumage and then others having red or orange vents, cheeks, and throat. A couple of them have very distinct crests. Bulbul have a habit of staggering from bush to bush and doing it in a fluttering way

 Bulbuls are confident birds and seldom take flight upon sighting human. They are lively, quite a few have calls that sound like musical songs. They tend to be arboreal and make untidy, cup-shaped nests in trees. None is migratory.

Pycnonotus is a genus of songbird in the Pycnonotidae family.

Here is a summary of the 26 species found in Malaysia, lower down would be my illustrative pictures for some of the Bulbuls that I managed to capture.


01 Ashy Bulbul



02 Black & White Bulbul

  03 Black-crested Bulbul  
  04 Black-headed Bulbul  
  05 Buff vented Bulbul  
  06 Cream vented Bulbul  
  07 Finsch's Bulbul  
  08 Flavescent Bulbul  
  09 Grey-bellied Bulbul  
   10 Grey-cheeked Bulbul  
  11 Hairy-backed Bulbul  
  12 Mountain Bulbul  
  13 Ochraceous Bulbul  
  14 Olive-winged Bulbul  
  15 Puff-backed Bulbul  
  16 Red-eyed Bulbul  
  17 Red-whiskered Bulbul  
  18 Scaly-breasted Bulbul  
  19 Sooty-headed Bulbul  
  20 Spectacled Bulbul  
  21 Straw-headed Bulbul  
  22 Streak-eared Bulbul  
  23 Streaked Bulbul  
  24 Striped-throated Bulbul  
  25 Yellow-bellied Bulbul  
  26 Yellow-vented Bulbul  


Overall, the Bulbul as a breed, we are lucky that we have lots of varieties in Malaysia. In the field, the good point. Then come the disturbing fact - all Bulbuls almost looks alike, more so for beginners who just started taking up the hobby of birding seriously. Bulbuls are readily available in the garden, park and forest, different species. You can say that they would be there - everywhere that one goes to for birding. That is one extreme and the other end, they are all light brown. To the experienced birder, in that brief moment, the diagnostic markings needs to be recognized swiftly evaluated. Those with lesser experience, at nearly all encounters, there is not enough time and daunting trying to seek out the major differences for a positive ID. Unfortunately yes, the differences are so subtle. I can understand the frustration of an early meeting up with a good size bird but could not tell its ID for sure. Never mind, these same birds would appear again and again on that trip or on subsequent visit to the same place..

For a change, I varied the style of write-up for this page. Instead of writing a paragraph on the bird, I have compiled a short list giving brief details on the individual bird.  


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