Family Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)

Least Concern

Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis)


French: Bulbul de Chine German: Chinabülbül Spanish: Bulbul chino
Other common names: Chinese Bulbul

[Muscicapa] sinensis

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Guangzhou, Guangdong, south China


Closely related to, and often interbreeds with, P. taivanus (which see). As nominate race and hainanus (one strong character: all-black crown) both occur on Hainan, some authors have treated these as separate species; their breeding ranges, however, do not overlap. Molecular study#R has proposed split of formosae (with orii) from sinensis on basis of mtDNA evidence alone, and also suggests split of hainanus, despite no genetic support; races formosae and orii sometimes placed in P. taivanus, apparently in error. Putative race kobayashii (Ishigaki, in S Ryukyu Is) is indistinguishable from orii; hoyi (middle Yangtze Valley) was described from a juvenile specimen, and is a junior synonym of nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. s. sinensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – C & E China (Sichuan and S Shaanxi E to mouth of R Yangtze, S through Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian; expanding N with records N to Hebei, Shandong and Liaoning and also Korea (Socheong I#R). Migratory in N part of range, non-breeding S to N & C Vietnam, Laos and Hainan.
  • P. s. hainanus (Swinhoe, 1870) – SE China (Hainan, SE Guangdong) and N Vietnam; non-breeding S to C Vietnam.
  • P. s. formosae E. J. O. Hartert, 1910 – Taiwan (excluding S & E coast S of Taroko Gorge).
  • P. s. orii Nagamichi Kuroda, 1923 – S Ryukyu Archipelago (Okinawa, Yaeyama Is).
  • Descriptive notes

    18–19 cm; 30–46 g. Medium-sized, noisy, conspicuous bulbul. Nominate race has striking head pattern, with black crown and moustachial stripe, broad white... read more


    Typical bulbul sounds in a range of cheerful phrases and strikingly peculiar notes, difficult to... read more


    Cultivation, borders of cultivation, orchards, gardens with large shrubs, scrub and open woodland;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Eats variety of berries, small figs (Ficus), soft fruit and vegetables; also insects, e.g. dipteran flies, sometimes caught in... read more


    Breeds Apr–Jun, sometimes as late as Oct; multi-brooded, often 3–4 nests per season. Nest a firm cup-shaped structure, usually... read more


    Largely resident; migratory in N. Post-breeding movement S by N populations, with regular records... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). One of the commonest birds in S China, especially in cultivated and settled areas; abundant in many regions, including Hong Kong and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fishpool, L. & Tobias, J. (2020). Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis). 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 25 January 2020).