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Red-whiskered bulbul facts for kids

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Red-whiskered bulbul
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Pycnonotidae
Genus: Pycnonotus
Binomial name
Pycnonotus jocosus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The red-whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) is a species of bird. It belongs in the family Pycnonotidae. It is found mainly in tropical Asia. It has been introduced in many tropical areas of the world. It feeds on fruits and small insects. Their calls are loud. They are very common in many hill forests and urban gardens.

Description

The red-whiskered bulbul is about 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in length. It has brown upper-parts and whitish underparts with buff flanks and a dark spur running onto the breast at shoulder level. It has a tall pointed black crest, red face patch and thin black moustachial line. The tail is long and brown with white terminal feather tips, but the vent area is red. Juveniles lack the red patch behind the eye, and the vent area is rufous-orange.

The loud and evocative call is a sharp kink-a-joo (also transcribed as pettigrew or kick-pettigrew or pleased to meet you) and the song is a scolding chatter. They are more often heard than seen, but will often perch conspicuously especially in the mornings when they call from the tops of trees. The life span is about 11 years.

Distribution and habitat

Red Whiskered Bulbul (Immature) I2 IMG 4922
Immature of race emeria from eastern India

This is a bird of lightly wooded areas, more open country with bushes and shrubs, and farmland. Irruptions have been noted from early times with Thomas C. Jerdon noting that they were "periodically visiting Madras and other wooded towns in large flocks."

It has established itself in Australia and in Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Florida in the United States, as well as in Mauritius, on Assumption Island and Mascarene Islands. In Florida, it is only found in a small area, and its population could be extirpated easily. It was eradicated from Assumption Island in 2013–2015 to prevent colonisation of nearby Aldabra, the largest introduced bird-free tropical island.

The red-whiskered bulbul was introduced by the Zoological and Acclimatization Society in 1880 to Sydney, became well established across the suburbs by 1920, and continued to spread slowly to around 100 km away. It is now also found in suburban Melbourne and Adelaide, although it is unclear how they got there.

Behaviour and ecology

Red whiskered bulbul 2
Red-whiskered bulbul at nest

On the island of Réunion, this species established itself and also aided the spread of alien plant species such as Rubus alceifolius. In Florida they feed on fruits and berries of as many as 24 exotic plants including loquat (Eriobotrya japonica), Lantana spp., Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) and figs (Ficus). In Mauritius they aid the dispersal of Ligustrum robustum and Clidemia hirta. Seeds that pass through their gut germinate better. Populations of the red-whiskered bulbul on the island of Reunion have diversified in the course of thirty years and show visible variations in bill morphology according to the food resources that they have adapted to utilize.

Breeding

Red-Whiskered Bulbul with Chick
With chicks in nest

The breeding season is spread out and peaks from December to May in southern India and March to October in northern India. Breeding may occur once or twice a year. The courtship display of the male involves head bowing, spreading the tail and drooping wings. The nest is cup-shaped, and is built on bushes, thatched walls or small trees. It is woven of fine twigs, roots, and grasses, and embellished with large objects such as bark strips, paper, or plastic bags. Clutches typically contain two to three eggs. Adults (possibly the female) may feign injury to distract potential predators away from the nest. The eggs have a pale mauve ground colour with speckles becoming blotches towards the broad end. Eggs measure 21 mm and are 16 mm wide. Eggs take 12 days to hatch. Both parents take part in raising the young. Young birds are fed on caterpillars and insects which are replaced by fruits and berries as they mature. The chicks are psilopaedic (having down only in the pterylae). Eggs and chicks may be preyed on by the greater coucal and crows.

They defend territories of about 3,000 square metres (32,000 sq ft) during the breeding season. They roost communally in loose groups of a hundred or more birds.

Food and feeding

The red-whiskered bulbul feeds on fruits (including those of the yellow oleander that are toxic to mammals), nectar and insects.

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