Red-vented Bulbul


P. cafer



Local Names






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Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer)
The red-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) is a member of the bulbul family of passerines. It is a resident breeder across the Indian subcontinent, including Sri Lanka extending east to Burma and parts of Bhutan and Nepal. It has been introduced in many other parts of the world and has established itself in New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Fiji, as well as parts of Samoa, Australia, USA and Cook Islands. It is included in the list of the world's 100 worst invasive alien species.
This is a bird of dry scrub, open forest, plains and cultivated lands. In its native range it is rarely found in mature forests. A study based on 54 localities in India concluded that vegetation is the single most important factor that determines the distribution of the species.
Red-vented bulbuls were introduced into Fiji in 1903 by indentured labourers from India, becoming widespread. They were introduced to Tonga in 1943 and became common on Samoa by 1957. They became established on the Tongan islands of Tongatapu and Niuafo'ou. They were introduced into Melbourne around 1917 but were not seen after 1942. They established in Auckland in the 1950s but were exterminated and another wild population was detected and exterminated in 2006. In 2013 more were found, and authorities offered a $1000 reward for information that led to a bird's capture. They prefer dry lowland habitat in these regions. They were first observed breeding on the Canary Islands in 2018. They are considered as pests because of their habit of damaging fruit crops. Methiocarb and ziram have been used to protect cultivated Dendrobium orchids in Hawaii from damage by these birds; however, they learn to avoid the repellent chemicals. They can also disperse the seeds of invasive plants like Lantana camara and Miconia calvescens. In 19th-century India these birds were frequently kept as cage pets and for fighting especially in the Carnatic region. They would be held on the finger with a thread attached and when they fought they would seize the red feathers of the opponents.
Indians frequently tame it and carry it about the bazaars, tied with a string to the finger or to a little crutched perch, which is often made of precious metals or jade; while there are few Europeans who do not recollect Eha's immortal phrase anent the red patch in the seat of its trousers.
In the state of Assam, India, (the Bulbul) bird as it is known in Assamese), the male birds were held captive for a few days and were engaged in fights as a spectator sport in the Bihu festival during the Ahom rule. This practice was banned in January 2016.