Family Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)

Least Concern

Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus)


French: Bulbul orphée German: Rotohrbülbül Spanish: Bulbul orfeo

[Lanius] jocosus


, 1758,

Guangzhou, Guangdong, south China


S China race hainanensis initially assumed to relate to escaped cagebirds (there is no wild population on Hainan). Proposed Indian races provincialis (Uttar Pradesh) and erythrotis (West Bengal), and peguensis (from Myanmar), insufficiently distinct to justify recognition; thus, the first is merged with pyrrhotis and the last two with emeria. Racial identity of Laos population uncertain, tentatively included in pattani. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. j. abuensis (Whistler, 1931) – NW India (W Rajasthan, W Gujarat, N Maharashtra, but absent from more arid areas).
  • P. j. fuscicaudatus (Gould, 1866) – W & C India.
  • P. j. pyrrhotis (Bonaparte, 1850) – N India (Himachal Pradesh, Punjab E to Arunachal Pradesh) and Nepal.
  • P. j. emeria (Linnaeus, 1758) – E India (Ganges Delta S to Rameswaram, in Tamil Nadu), Bangladesh, N, W & S Myanmar (including Arakan Hills) and SW Thailand.
  • P. j. whistleri Deignan, 1948 – Andaman Is.
  • P. j. monticola (Horsfield, 1840) – E Himalayas in NE India and S Tibet E to N Myanmar and S China (Yunnan).
  • P. j. pattani Deignan, 1948 – extreme S Myanmar (S Tenasserim), Thailand, N Peninsular Malaysia, Laos and S Indochina.
  • P. j. hainanensis (Hachisuka, 1939) – N Vietnam and S China (S Guangdong, including Naozhou I).
  • P. j. jocosus (Linneaus, 1758) – SE China (Guizhou E to Guangxi, E Guangdong and Hong Kong).
  • Introduced (races unknown) in E Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Mauritius, Nicobar Is, Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Penang), Singapore, Borneo (Brunei), E Australia, Hawaii (Oahu), SW & SE USA (California, Florida), Spain (Valencia) and Canary Is.

    Descriptive notes

    18–20·5 cm; 25–31 g. Slim, dark-backed, conspicuous bulbul with long crest, which often held upright. Nominate race has black crown and crest, bright red... read more


    Song short and spirited, often second main note highest and loudest, thereafter descending in pitch... read more


    Wide range of habitats, including dense hilly woodland, secondary scrub, roadsides, parkland,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Generalist and opportunist; feeds on fruit (fond of Lantana berries), nectar, flower buds, and invertebrates; around habitations,... read more


    In India, breeds Mar–Oct in N and variably throughout year (mostly Dec–May) in S; Apr–May in Andamans and N Thailand; Feb... read more


    Essentially resident over much of range, but subject to apparently unpredictable invasive or... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common in many regions. Abundant in S & W India, and common (at least historically) in NE India; very common in Hong Kong, where... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fishpool, L. & Tobias, J. (2019). Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus). 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).