Red-whiskered Bulbul: Introduced to parts of North America as escaped caged birds. This bulbul has brown upperparts, a black crested head, mask and partial collar, an orange-red patch behind the eye and a white cheek patch. The underparts are white with brown wash. Diet includes berries, fruits and insects. It has a direct flight with rapid wing beats. Sexes are similar.
Range and Habitat
Red-whiskered Bulbul: Native to tropical regions of Asia, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and the south China coast. Escaped caged birds were introduced and established colonies in North America in southern Florida and in Australia. Preferred habitats include lightly wooded areas and farmland.
The bulbuls are one of the one hundred eighteen families of birds in the order PASSERIFORMES (pronounced pas-ser-i-FOR-meez), a large taxonomic order that also includes the babblers, the wrens, and the accentors.
A large bird family with a primarily African and Asian distribution, the Pycnonotidae (pronounced pik-noh-NOH-tuh-dee) is composed of one hundred forty-four species in twenty-five genera.
The only representatives of the bulbul family that occur in North America are two introduced species from one genus; the Red-vented Bulbul and the Red-whiskered Bulbul.
In Asia, bulbuls are most well known for their singing ability; several species kept as cagebirds because of this. The Red-whiskered Bulbul is no exception with populations of this species in the United States derived from birds that escaped from captivity.
Members of the Pycnonotidae are medium-sized Passerines that are rather slender in appearance with long tails, short wings, medium length legs, and short, fairly thin bills. Like several other members of this family, the two North American species are crested.
The many species of bulbuls are plumaged in olive, brown, gray, black, and white, some with streaked plumage and many with patches of yellow or red on the face and vent.
In Asia and Africa, members of this family reside in tropical forest and non-forest habitats, all species being arboreal in nature. The two species that have been introduced to North America are non-forest species that have adapted nicely to urban settings and open areas with warm climates such as Los Angeles, Miami, and Hawaii.
The two North American bulbuls are non-migratory birds.
Bulbuls do not nest in colonies but often occur in flocks while foraging. Many species are frugivorous, the two North American species feeding on the fruits of introduced trees so commonly planted in Miami. In addition to feeding on fruits, they also take flower nectar and insects.
The two introduced species of this family in North America are not threatened. They aren’t threatened in their native range either, although some localized populations of the Red-whiskered Bulbul have been extirpated by capture for the cagebird trade. The formerly common Straw-headed Bulbul of Indonesia and Malaysia has been especially affected by this practice and is now extirpated or rare in most areas of its range.
The Red-whiskered Bulbul gets its name from the distinctive red tuft of feathers located just below and behind the eyes.