Family Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)

Least Concern

Black-headed Bulbul (Brachypodius atriceps)


French: Bulbul cap-nègre German: Schwarzkopfbülbül Spanish: Bulbul cabecinegro

Turdus atriceps


, 1822,

“Sandwich Islands”; error = Sumatra


Usually considered conspecific with B. fuscoflavescens. Island races hyperemnus, baweanus and hodiernus poorly differentiated and in need of review; at other extreme, one recent regional guide#R comments that all three may merit treatment at species level, hyperemnus “because of pronounced differences in ecology, biometrics and colouration”, baweanus “because of predominance of grey-morph birds”, and hodiernus “because of moderately deep mtDNA divergence and lack of widespread yellow morph”. Forms described as chalcocephalus (Bantam district, in Java) and cinereoventris (Tippera district, in Bangladesh) shown to be variations of grey morph of present species, and “B. immaculatus” found to be a variant of the yellow type. Proposed race major (NE India) was described on basis of inaccurate measurements and is invalid. Four subspecies provisionally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. a. atriceps (Temminck, 1822) – E Bangladesh (Sylhet and Chittagongs), NE India (S of R Brahmaputra, to N Cachar and Manipur), Myanmar (except N) and S China (SW Yunnan) S to S Thailand, SW Cambodia, S Laos, S Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia and Greater Sundas, and W Philippines (Calauit, Dumaran, Palawan).
  • B. a. hyperemnus (Oberholser, 1912) – W Sumatran islands (Simeulue, Nias, Mentawai Is).
  • B. a. baweanus Finsch, 1901 – Bawean I (N of Java).
  • B. a. hodiernus (Bangs & J. L. Peters, 1927) – Maratua I (off E Borneo).
  • Descriptive notes

    16–18 cm; 20–30 g. Small, active, brightly coloured bulbul with very small legs. Whole head is black with metallic blue-green sheen; upperparts dark olive to... read more


    Flight call a single emphatic “tchimp” or “tchep”; similar calls when perched include distinctive,... read more


    Broadleaf evergreen forest, mixed deciduous forest and peatswamp-forest, often where fairly open... read more

    Food and feeding

    Fruits; some invertebrates. Figs (Ficus) feature prominently in diet, at Kuala Lompat (Peninsular Malaysia) include forest-edge... read more


    Season Jan–Sept, usually Mar–Jun. Nests singly or in loose clumps of pairs, these clumps probably temporary and breeding not... read more


    Resident, but partially nomadic. Flocks roam and disperse over wide area in non-breeding season;... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common throughout much of range, tolerating fair degree of habitat degradation; very rare in S China and rare in India, with very few recent... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fishpool, L. & Tobias, J. (2019). Black-headed Bulbul (Brachypodius atriceps). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 August 2019).