Family Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)

Least Concern

Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer)


French: Bulbul à ventre rouge German: Rotsteißbülbül Spanish: Bulbul cafre

[Turdus] cafer


, 1766,

Cape of Good Hope; error = Pondicherry, south-east India


Type locality has twice been corrected, first from South Africa, second from Sri Lanka; Sri Lankan race therefore no longer the nominate. Species sometimes treated as conspecific with P. aurigaster owing to interbreeding in Myanmar; hybrids earlier described incorrectly as separate species (P. nigropileus and P. burmanicus). In NW India, often hybridizes with P. leucogenys; hybrids between latter and race intermedius of present species erroneously described as a separate species (Molpastes magrathi). Sometimes hybridizes also with P. leucotis. Race wetmorei previously referred to as saturatus, but that name preoccupied by a race of Eurillas latirostris (which was formerly placed in present genus) and was replaced prior to 1961 so is permanently invalid. Some listed races weakly differentiated or perhaps described from mid-points of clines or hybrid zones; full review needed. In India, primrosei (Assam) and afer (Meghalaya) included in bengalensis, and vicinus (Mysore) and pusillus (NE Tamil Nadu) in nominate. Eight subspecies provisionally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. c. intermedius Blyth, 1846 – W Himalayas from Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir E at least to Nepal.
  • P. c. humayuni Deignan, 1951 – SE Pakistan (Sind) and NW & NC India (including N plains).
  • P. c. bengalensis Blyth, 1845 – C & E Himalayas and Gangetic Plain, and Bangladesh.
  • P. c. stanfordi Deignan, 1949 – NE India (S Assam hills), N Myanmar and S China (W Yunnan).
  • P. c. melanchimus Deignan, 1949 – S Myanmar, recently recorded in W Thailand#R.
  • P. c. wetmorei Deignan, 1960 – NE peninsular India.
  • P. c. cafer (Linnaeus, 1766) – S India.
  • P. c. haemorrhousus (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – Sri Lanka.
  • Introduced in Polynesia, including Fiji, Samoa and Tonga (bengalensis); also E Arabia (Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman) and Hawaii (Oahu) (races unknown).

    Descriptive notes

    19–20 cm; 28–40 g. Medium-sized, noisy, conspicuous bulbul, generally dark brown and scaly-looking, with bushy crest. Nominate race has black hood, brown... read more


    Produces loud gurgly notes almost constantly. Songs of S races include loud, jaunty, guttural... read more


    Drier deciduous woodland, sparse secondary forest, scrub, orchards and gardens, including in large... read more

    Food and feeding

    An opportunist and generalist; diet includes fruit, nectar, buds and invertebrates, occasionally vertebrates. In Pakistan, said to feed... read more


    Breeds Apr–Oct (mainly Jun–Jul) in W India, although usual season given as Aug–Mar (associated with fruiting season) in... read more


    Resident, but subject to local movements in response to environmental conditions. In India, W... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common and familiar, even in heavily populated areas. Abundant throughout much of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh;... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fishpool, L. & Tobias, J. (2019). Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer). 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 6 December 2019).