PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. bulbul
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  • Scientific Name:  Pycnonotus jocosus
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin:  No
  • Origin / Distribution:  India, South East Asia, Southern China.
  • Habitat In Wild:  Low scrub, farmlands. Will forage in urban areas.
  • Status In Wild:  Secure.
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity:  Becoming difficult to acquire. Numbers are probably low.
  • Age To Sexual Maturity:  about 12 months
  • Adult plumage: attained at about ? months  
  • Best breeding years (estimate):  2nd - 7th.
  • Lifespan (estimate):  approx. 8 - 10 years
  • Sexing: Monomorphic / Dimorphic (Visual sexing may be possible)
  • Colour mutations:  No
  • Availability:  Bird dealers and specialist breeders.  May be hard to obtain.
  • Temperament:  Attractive bird with a crest. They look good in a planted aviary.  Not a hard bird to breed once a compatible pair has settled into its aviary, but have fallen out of favour in recent years. Can be a good aviary bird and one of only a few species in aviaries that have a crest. A feral population has established in and around Sydney, New South Wales. Bulbuls can be aggressive to other Bulbuls so it is advisable to house them as one pair per aviary, however they can usually be housed during the non-breeding season safely with other finches and small parrots.  The cock bird sings.
    Care must be exercised when handling these birds as they are prone to loosing feathers fairly easily.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx.) $150
  • Description Of Adults:
  1. Length: Approx. 200 - 210 mm (or approx 8 - 8.5 inches)
  2. Colour ("normal" colour): Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight: Approx. ? gms (or approx. ? ozs)

Derives its name from the tufts of deep red feathers that look like whiskers on each side of its head.

There are about 120 species of Bulbuls world wide. Only one is represented in Australia. Most have adapted well to farmlands and orchards.  

Aviary Notes:

Level Of Knowledge Required: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws:  Refer to "Government Laws" web page.

Bulbuls are banned in South Australia due to their potential as a pest species.

Housing Requirements:  Click on "Softbills" web page for full details on the housing of  Softbills or read on for specific details for this finch.

Best results are obtained if only one pair is housed per aviary.  An aviary of about 3000mm long and 900 mm wide (10ft x 3 ft) is sufficient.  Bulbuls are not strong fliers in the aviary.  They prefer a planted aviary and will nest in a suitable shrub or tree.  They generally nest high up in the aviary.  Care should be taken to ensure the nest is not built too close to the roof of the aviary.  Nests too close to the roof can be detrimental to both the nesting adults young and the eggs in the hotter months and may even cause the death of the eggs, young or adults from heat stress or dehydration.

Can be aggressive to other Bulbuls so it is advisable to house them as one pair per aviary, however they can usually be safely housed during the non-breeding season with other finches or small parrots.  Some pairs can become aggressive during the breeding season.  Bulbuls will usually be aggressive to other Bulbuls in an adjoining aviary.  If possible, do not place breeding pairs in adjoining aviaries unless they are separated with solid walls.

If pairs are housed in adjoining aviaries, it is common for only one pair to be successful and raise young.

Diet / Feeding:  Click on "Softbills" web page for full details on the nutrition of  Softbills or read on for specific details for this finch.

The natural diet in the wild includes fruits, berries, flower and leaf buds, and nectar from flowers. In the wild Bulbuls will enter orchards, farmlands and urban areas and consume ripe and semi-ripe fruits.  Insects form part of their normal food intake.

An aviary diet should include a quality finch seed mix, variety of fruits such as apple, pear, banana, grapes, soaked sultanas, berries, small quantity of plain Madeira cake and multi-grain bread, and a variety of insects.  A quality softbill rearing mix can be offered.  Will eat boiled rice.

As the young Bulbuls are fed almost exclusively on insects, a good supply will be necessary to ensure proper development of the young.  Mealworms, crickets and commercially grown cockroaches are ideal.  The mealworm larvae, pupa and the mealworm beetle can be offered to these birds to give them a variety of colour and shape in the insects offered.  They will eat similar insects as suitable for the other softbills.

A pair of adult Bulbuls with 2 young can consume 200 or more mealworm size insects per day.  The bigger the young the more they may eat.  If 3 or more young are in the nest, a proportionally larger number of insects must be made available.

Nesting:  A basic overview only.

  • Roosting nest: Yes / No
  • Nesting months:  August to March
  • Nesting receptacles:  Build a cup shaped nest.  Nest is usually slightly larger than a typical canary nest.
  • Nest:  The hen builds a nest out of grasses, stalks, straw, twigs, short pieces of teased hessian, coconut fibre and other materials.  Nest is lined with feathers, soft materials and soft fine grasses.  They generally nest high up in the aviary in a shrub, tree or dried brush.
  • Who incubates the eggs: Hen / cock / both share.

Breeding: Egg Colour Whitish, reddish-white or pink, densely freckled and streaked.  Clutch/s per year 2 or 3.  Eggs per nest 2 - 4.  Incubation approx. 12 days.  Fledge approx. 12 days.  Independent approx. 3 to 4 weeks.

Best breeding results appear to be from birds that are at least 12 months of age.

Nesting hens are light sitters in the nest and easily disturbed.  They will leave the nest at the slightest disturbance.

The young Bulbuls are fed almost exclusively on insects.  The parents usually raise 2 young per nest even if more than 2 eggs are laid.

If pairs are housed in adjoining aviaries, it is common for only one pair to be successful and raise young.

It can be difficult to get a pair that breed on a regular basis.  If possible, do not spilt up a successful pair or move them to a new aviary.  It may take them a long time to start breeding again.

When the young leave the nest they are small compared to the adults but able to fly.

Artificial incubation, hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site.  It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.  Refer "Specific References" as listed below and "General References" listings.

Health Issues: Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new birds or sick birds are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site. Refer above option - "Avian Health Issues" web page.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace. Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

General References:  Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol 49 No. 10 Oct 1995 Page 241-244 (Red whiskered Bulbuls - inc photo).
  • A/A Vol 29 No. 12 Dec 1975 Page 177-178
  • A/A Vol 27 No. 4  Apr 1973 Page 63-64
  • A/A Vol 19 No 4 Apr 1965 Page 53-54.
  • A/A Vol 18 No 9 Sept 1964 Page 131-132.
  • A/A Vol 18 No 6 Jun 1964 Page 91.
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol  6  Issue 11. Oct-Nov  1993  Page 556-558

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