Animal Species:Red-whiskered Bulbul, Pycnonotus jocosus

The Red-whiskered Bulbul is a native species of China but was introduced to Australia in the early 1900s.

Red-whiskered Bulbul

Red-whiskered Bulbul
Photographer: Joanne Bryant © Joanne Bryant

Standard Common Name

Red-whiskered Bulbul


The Red-whiskered Bulbul is not easily mistaken for any other species of bird in Australia. It has a pointed black crest, white cheeks, brown back, reddish under tail coverts and a long white-tipped tail. The red whisker mark, from which it gets its name, is located below the eye, but is not always easy to see. Both male and female birds are similar in plumage, while young birds are duller with a greyish-black crown. Red-whiskered Bulbuls are not timid around humans, perching prominently on the top of bushes or on power lines.

Size range

20 cm to 22 cm


Red-whiskered Bulbuls are native to southern Asia, but were introduced into Sydney in 1880 and later to Melbourne around the mid-1900s. The Melbourne population has remained fairly concentrated; the birds from Sydney have spread along the east coast.


Bulbuls are common in urban areas, where they inhabit parks, gardens and along creeks.

Feeding and Diet

Red-whiskered Bulbuls feed on a variety of native and introduced fruits, insects and flower buds. Groups of up to 50 or so birds may gather around a food source, although smaller groups of three to five birds are more common. Birds chatter noisily as they actively feed among the dense bushes.


The call, a characteristic descending musical whistle, often indicates a bird's presence long before it is seen.

Mating and reproduction

Red-whiskered Bulbuls build an open cup nest of rootlets, bark and leaves, lined with soft fibre. The nest is usually placed in a low tree fork. Two or three broods may be reared in a season. Both birds incubate the eggs and care for the young birds. The eggs are pale pink, streaked and spotted with shades of red.

Breeding Season: August to March.



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Ondine Evans , Web Researcher/Editor
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