Family Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)

Least Concern

Flavescent Bulbul (Pycnonotus flavescens)


French: Bulbul flavescent German: Grauohrbülbül Spanish: Bulbul amarillento

P[ycnonotus]. flavescens


, 1845,

hills between Sandoway and Pyè, Arakan Yoma, west Myanmar


Formerly separated in Xanthixus; placement in present genus is debatable. Hitherto treated as conspecific with P. leucops (which see). Validity of forms vividus and sordidus questionable, as individual variation renders both these and nominate virtually indistinguishable in large series. Putative race pallens (Assam, in NE India) is inseparable from nominate. Further research required on vocal, behavioural and genetic differences between populations. Three subspecies provisionally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. f. flavescens Blyth, 1845 – NE India (S Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Lushai Hills, also reported NE Arunachal Pradesh), NE Bangladesh (recent record from Sylhet) and W & SW Myanmar (including Arakan Hills).
  • P. f. vividus (E. C. S. Baker, 1917) – S China (W & S Yunnan and SW Guangxi)#R, N & E Myanmar, NW Thailand (S to Kaeng Krachan National Park), N & C Laos and N & C Vietnam.
  • P. f. sordidus (Robinson & Kloss, 1919) – S Laos and S Vietnam (including Da Lat Plateau).
  • Descriptive notes

    21·5–22 cm; 27·1–35 g. A medium-large, drab, relatively retiring bulbul with fairly stout bill, rather long and heavy tail, crown feathers often... read more


    Less noisy than many bulbuls, but does sing fairly regularly from exposed perch. Main song a... read more


    Open forest, edge, second growth, scrub, mossy forest; avoids intact forest. In tall bushes and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on berries and invertebrates, apparently principally the latter. In singles, pairs or, more often, small groups; forms flocks of up... read more


    Mar–Jul. Nest a shallow cup, neatly and firmly made, built in c. 6 days (in Myanmar), in NE India constructed with black fern roots,... read more


    Resident; some downslope movement in cold season.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally abundant throughout much of its range; uncommon at edges of mainland range. Abundant in Myanmar in Chin Hills, Karen Hills... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fishpool, L., Tobias, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Flavescent Bulbul (Pycnonotus flavescens). 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 19 August 2019).