White-Vented Bulbul (Common Bulbul)

African Savanna


In the Zoo
6 – 7.9 inches
Slightly smaller
1 – 2 ounces
1 – 1.5 ounces


Geographic Range

The White-vented Bulbul is found on the continent of Africa. Its range is extensive—from southern Mauritania east across Africa to Sudan south to northern Namibia, Botswana, and eastern South Africa. Its range goes north into Egypt along the Nile River, and isolated populations are present in northern Chad, northern Mauritania, and Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia along the coast.

Scientific Information

Scientific Name:
Pycnonotus barbatus

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Activity Time Frame:
Sexual Dimorphism:
Incubation, 12-14 days
Lifespan in the Wild:
Lifespan in Captivity:
At least 9 years


Least Concerned


The White-vented Bulbul has a sooty dark gray-brown head, lighter gray-brown back, wings, and chest. There is a small crest on the head. Belly is white, vent may be white or yellow depending on the subspecies. The bill, eye, and feet are dark. Sexes look alike.

Species Specifics

The White-vented Bulbul is a synonymous name for two different Bulbuls: the Common Bulbul (P. barbatus,) and the Light-vented or Chinese Bulbul (P. sinensis). We have the Common Bulbul, which has 10 subspecies. These are differentiated by coloration and range. This species also easily and often hybridizes with other Bulbuls, P. nigricans and P. capensis, where the ranges overlap.

Physical Characteristics

The beak shape allows the White-vented Bulbul to eat both fruits, seeds, and insects. The bottom mandible is straight, the top is curved downward, much like a crow or a raven.



This species is very adaptive, and is present in many habitats including scrubland, open woodland and secondary forest, coastal and riverine habitats, and farmland. It is absent from treeless environments and dense forest.


The population is considered stable and increasing. Throughout most of the range, the species is considered a year-round resident.


The White-vented Bulbul eats both plants and meat, though the bulk of their diet consists of plants, namely figs and other fruits and seeds, followed by leaves and flowers. They eat grasshoppers, beetles, termites, and caterpillars.

Ecological Web

The White-vented Bulbul is a seed-disperser and helps shape the flora of its habitat. It relies heavily upon figs, which makes up the majority of its diet when it is available. It will also eat insects, such as grasshoppers, which helps keep the population of these animals down.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

This bird spends the majority of the day foraging for food. Peak hours of foraging are in the mornings and evenings.


The White-vented Bulbul changes its diet seasonally, based on what is available at that time. For example, during fall and winter, the diet is almost exclusively plant matter.

Social Behavior

The White-vented Bulbul can be found in pairs or congregating with other bird species. They are not territorial outside of the mating season.

Reproductive Behavior

Mating season varies across the range, but is concentrated during the summer. White-vented Bulbuls pair-bond for life. The build cup-like nests in the lower forks of trees and bushes. Both parents help care for the chicks.


The female lays between 2 and 5 eggs. Chicks hatch after about two weeks, and fledge between 10 and 17 days later.



The White-vented Bulbul is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, and is not listed on the CITES appendices at all. The population is considered to be stable and increasing, and it has adapted well to a variety of habitats.


This species was formally described in 1789.

Current Threats

Our Role

Exhibit and educate.

No items found.

How You Can Help

Please make sure to properly dispose of waste, especially when you are outside, as birds may pick them up.

Fascinating Facts

The White-vented Bulbul is actually a very helpful species to farmers since they eat grasshoppers and other insect pests that harm crops!

The White-vented Bulbul’s peak foraging times are in the morning and evening. On theory for this behavior is that doing so reduces the risk of predation and increases social activities.

Utilizing many different habitats is helpful not only for adaptability, but it also helps reduce food competition among conspecifics and other species.

Birds have all sorts of different wing shapes! Each shape helps them fly or move about in their specific habitat. The White-vented Bulbul has short wings, which helps it fly through thickets.

White-vented Bulbuls sing for over two hours, often starting before dawn. They engage in communal singing after feeding. The mnemonic (memorization pattern for bird songs that uses words) for their song is an abrupt “quick, chop, toquick.”






Okosodo, E. F., et al. “Food and Feeding Ecology of Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus Barbatus) in Leventis Foundation Agricultural School Ilesa South Western Nigeria.” Greener Journal of Agricultural Sciences, vol. 6, no. 15, 29 Jan. 2016, pp. 1–7., doi:http://doi.org/10.15580/GJAS.2016.1.121615169.