Last updated on 1-Nov 2017
In Australia, the introduced Red-whiskered Bulbul occurs mainly in built-up areas, inhabiting parks, gardens and streetscapes, though they are occasionally recorded in orchards. They especially favour areas infested with weeds, especially lantana, privet and blackberry, all of which produce succulent berries, the birds’ main food. Red-whiskered Bulbuls are far less invasive than many other species that have been introduced to Australia, and have expanded their range from Sydney only slightly — odd records of bulbuls at Mackay, Coffs Harbour and Melbourne are due to subsequent releases.
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.
The call, a characteristic descending musical whistle, often indicates a bird’s presence long before it is seen. Bird call recorded by: Fred Van Gessel
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.
The Red-whiskered Bulbul is a native species of China but was introduced to Australia in the early 1900s.
Red-whiskered Bulbuls are not timid around humans, perching prominently on the top of bushes or on power lines.
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.
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.