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Species Guide
A photo of a African Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus nigricans)
African Red-eyed Bulbul

African Red-eyed Bulbul

Pycnonotus nigricans

The African red-eyed bulbul, also known as the black-fronted bulbul, is a small, vivacious songbird with a distinctive appearance. It measures between 19 to 21 centimeters in length and tips the scales at a modest 30 to 48 grams. This bird is easily recognized by its contrasting plumage and the striking red eyes that give it its name.

Identification Tips

When observing the African red-eyed bulbul, look for its black face, throat, and crest, which stand out against the lighter grey to brown body feathers. The underparts are paler, and the tail is long and dark. The eyes, as the name suggests, are a vivid red.


This species thrives in a variety of dry environments, including the dry savanna, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, and riverine scrub. These habitats provide the African red-eyed bulbul with ample foraging opportunities and nesting sites.


The African red-eyed bulbul is found in the southwestern regions of Africa. Its range extends from southwestern Angola through Namibia and Botswana to western South Africa, with a separate population in central South Africa.


The African red-eyed bulbul is known for its loud and fluty call, which is typically performed by the male. This bird is often seen in pairs or small groups, and it is not uncommon to witness communal bathing, where some individuals keep watch while others enjoy the water.

Song & Calls

The male's call is a series of loud fluty notes, which can be heard across its habitat. This distinctive sound adds to the character of the landscapes it inhabits.

Similar Species

The African red-eyed bulbul is part of a superspecies complex that includes the Himalayan bulbul, white-eared bulbul, white-spectacled bulbul, Cape bulbul, and the common bulbul. It can be distinguished from these relatives by its unique coloration and red eyes.

Diet and Feeding

This bulbul is an omnivore, feeding on a diet that includes fruit (notably from Ficus trees), flowers, nectar, and insects. This varied diet allows it to thrive in its dry habitat.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List categorizes the African red-eyed bulbul as Least Concern, indicating that it currently faces no significant threats to its survival. This status reflects the bird's adaptability and the relative stability of its populations.

African Red-eyed Bulbul Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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African Red-eyed Bulbuls on Birda


More Bulbuls

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Yellow-browed Bulbul

Acritillas indica
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