19 June 2013

Red Vented Bulbul

The Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus Cafer, Tamil: Kondai Kuruvil) is a member of the Bulbul family of Passerines. It is a resident breeder across India and found throughout Tiruvannamalai District. 

Beautiful Crested Head

Bulbuls are birds of graceful form and movement, their wings are short but broad and their tails are long and nearly even at the tip, instead of being forked or tapering as it usually the case with longish tails. Their bills are rather slight than stout and of moderate length; their legs are short. 

Eating Flower Nectar

The Red Vented is a largish bird as Bulbuls go, being about nine inches long. Its very picturesque in appearance, with a full black crest and black tail tipped with white (which is more noticeable during flight) and a crimson one below. It has scale-like markings on its beak and back. Sexes are alike in colouration, but young birds are duller than adults. 

This bird has no song as such and instead makes short, joyous notes. It calls throughout the year and has a number of distinct call types for roosting, flight, greeting etc. Its alarm call is usually responded to and heeded by many other bird species. 

Bulbul Preening

 Video of two adults feeding chick

This is a bird of dry scrub, open forest, plains and cultivated lands. It is a common visitor to gardens. Large numbers of his bird collect to feed on Banyan and Peepul figs and winged termite swarms. 

Bulbul cooling off

Red-vented Bulbuls feed on fruits, petals of flowers, nectar, insects and occasionally geckos. They have also been seen feeding on vegetables and the leaves of certain trees (e.g. Medicago Sativa). This bird is an important disperser of seed of plants such as Carissa Spinarum. 

Two Adults Grooming each other

Red-vented Bulbuls build their nests in bushes or tree cavities at a height of around 2–3 m (7–10 ft). Nests are occasionally built inside houses or in a hole in a mud bank. The nest is usually a cup of rootlets, sometimes plastered outside with cobwebs. Two or three eggs is a typical clutch and this bird is  capable of multiple clutches a year. Their eggs are pale-pinkish white with spots of purplish brown. The eggs hatch after about 14 days and both parents feed the chicks. The Pied Crested Cuckoo is a brood parasite of this species. 

Bulbul Eggs in Nest

In 19th Century India these birds were frequently kept as cage pets and for fighting especially in Karnataka. The bird would be held on the finger with a thread attached around its middle and when they fought they would seize the red feathers of its opponents. 

Newly Hatched Chick in Nest

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