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Bulbul is the name given to the otherwise known family of Pycnonotidae, a family of birds best described as some 119-140 species of medium-sized birds with short necks and wings, are Passerine (perching birds), and native to Africa and South Asia. Most of the species are found in Asian countries and fewer can be found in Africa. They are well known for being singing birds and are common pets of the Middle East. They frequent the text of Persian poetry and “Bulbul”, pronounced bool bool, often mistranslates to "Nightingale".
Trading red cheeked bulbul for cardinal with bun female
Red Vented Bulbul
Red Ear Bulbul
Types of Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)
- Black-fronted Bulbul (Pycnonotus nigricans)
- Black-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus atriceps)
- Brown-eared Bulbul (Hypsipetes flavala)
- Flavescent Bulbul (Pycnonotus flavescens)
- Formosan Bulbul (Pycnonotus taivanus)
- Puff-throated Bulbul (Criniger palladus)
- Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus)
- Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer)
- Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus)
- Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster)
- Streaked-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus blanfordi)
- Stripe-throated Bulbul (Pycnonotus finlaysoni)
- White-cheeked Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucogenys)
- White-headed Bulbul (Hypsipetes thompsoni)
- Yellow-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus penicillatus)
- Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier)
Bulbuls are considered plain colored and medium in size. They range from 5.5-11” long. Males are generally larger than females, but physically, the sexes are mostly alike. Aside from some of the species having colored cheeks, vents, or throats, the birds are mostly olive-brown to black. Most species have lengthy beaks that are hooked at the end. Its showy quality is its calls that are described as "nasally" or "gravelly", but there are a variety of sounds they make across its species so this may be a factor you will want to research prior to selecting a species for a pet.
What do Bulbuls Eat?
Bulbuls eat mainly seeds, nectar, insects, small invertebrates, fruit, and berries, and sometimes damage crops and orchards because of their diet. Most of its species are monogamous and remain close “families”. The male feeds the female during egg incubation which can be up to 2 weeks. The hatched birds are cared for by both parents and often choose to stick around to help raise the parent's next brood.
Types of Bulbuls
Popular species of Bulbul in the pet trade are the Red-Whiskered and Red-Vented Bulbul. This might be because their song is prettiest among the species. On the contrary, the Brown-eared Bulbul has an unpleasant song, if you can call the piercing sound that. Other species are named by their differentiating physical traits such as the Black-Eyed Bulbul, Yellow-Whiskered, Puff-Backed, GreyCheeked, Streak-Eared, Black and White, Cream Vented and more. There are so many varieties and in some places, a high concentration of them (like Malaysia), that they make a great subject for bird watching.
There are so many species of Bulbul that you can have as pets that their care is too diverse to mention here, however, it may be important to note some things to look for. Like previously mentioned, the bird's variety of sounds will be important to know during the selection process. It is just as important to research their behaviors in captivity. Some believe some of the Bulbul species will “commit suicide” while in captivity. It's important to take these wild animals seriously when considering keeping them as pets and strongly evaluate your commitment to keeping them happy. Bulbul species are all different, but you can expect your bird to live up to 4-6 years in captivity under optimal conditions.