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Species Guide
A photo of a Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus)
Common Bulbul

Common Bulbul

Pycnonotus barbatus

The common bulbul, or Pycnonotus barbatus, is a passerine bird belonging to the bulbul family. It is characterized by a fairly short, thin bill with a slightly downward curve on the upper mandible. The plumage is similar for both sexes, featuring a dark brown head and upperparts. The bird's bill, legs, and feet are black, and it possesses a dark brown eye with an inconspicuous dark eye-ring. With a length of about 18 cm (7.1 in), the common bulbul has a notably long tail.

Identification Tips

When identifying the common bulbul, look for its dark brown head and upperparts, and its long tail. The black bill, legs, and feet are also distinctive, as is the dark brown eye. The eye-ring may be difficult to discern. The bird's overall length and silhouette are key features to observe.


The common bulbul is adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats including woodland, coastal bush, forest edges, riverine bush, montane scrub, and mixed farming areas. It also thrives in exotic thickets, gardens, and parks.


This species is a widespread resident breeder across much of Africa, and has even been found breeding as far north as southern Spain. Its range extends from Morocco to Tunisia, southern Mauritania to western Chad and northern Cameroon, central Nigeria to Gabon and southern Congo, eastern Chad to northern and central Sudan and eastern Egypt, and in southeastern Sudan, western, central, and eastern Ethiopia, and Eritrea.


The common bulbul is typically observed in pairs or small groups. It is a conspicuous bird, often perching at the top of a bush. Its behavior is active and noisy, and its flight pattern is bouncing and reminiscent of a woodpecker.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of the common bulbul are quite loud, with a distinctive call that sounds like "doctor-quick doctor-quick be-quick be-quick."


Breeding occurs throughout the year in the moist tropics, with a seasonal peak coinciding with the onset of the rainy season in other areas. The nest is a rigid, thick-walled, and cup-shaped structure, typically hidden within the leafy foliage of a small tree or shrub. Clutch size is generally two or three eggs. The species is known to be parasitized by the Jacobin cuckoo.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the common bulbul consists of fruit, nectar, seeds, and insects, making it an omnivorous bird.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List has classified the common bulbul as Least Concern, indicating that it is not currently at significant risk of widespread decline.

Common Bulbul Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Common Bulbul Fun Facts

Did you know?
The Common Bulbul is the national bird of Liberia

Common Bulbuls on Birda


More Bulbuls

A photo of a Yellow-browed Bulbul (Acritillas indica)

Yellow-browed Bulbul

Acritillas indica
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