) are a family of medium-sized passerine songbirds. Many forest species are known as greenbuls.
Range / Distribution:
The family is distributed across most of Africa and into the Middle East, tropical Asia to Indonesia
, and north as far as Japan. A few insular species occur on the tropical islands of the Indian Ocean.
There are about 130 species in around 24 genera. While some species
are found in most habitats, overall African species are predominately
found in rainforest whilst rainforest species are rare in Asia,
instead preferring more open areas.
The only Bulbul which occurs in Europe was spotted in the
Cyclades and bears a yellow patch, being otherwise of a snuffy brown ;
and this is possibly the bird which has got mixed up with the nightingale
in Eastern poetry, as it occurs in Palestine, and is there called Bulbul by the Arabs.
Bulbuls are short-necked slender passerines. The tails are long and
the wings short and rounded. In almost all species the bill is
slightly elongated and slightly hooked at the end. They vary in length
from 13 cm for the Tiny Greenbul to 29 cm in the Straw-headed Bulbul
Overall the sexes are alike, although the females tend to be slightly
smaller. In a few species the differences are so great that they have
been described as functionally different species. The soft plumage of
some species is colorful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks,
throat or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive brown to
black plumage. Species with dull colored eyes often sport contrasting
eyerings. Some have very distinct crests. Bulbuls are highly vocal, with
the calls of most species being described as nasal or gravelly. One
author described the song of the Brown-eared Bulbul
as "the most unattractive noises made by any bird".
Bulbuls eat a wide range of different foods, ranging from fruit to
seeds, nectar, small insects and other arthropods and even small
vertebrates. The majority of species are frugivorous and supplement
their diet with some insects, whilst there is a significant minority
of specialists, particularly in Africa. Open country species in
particular are generalists.
The bulbuls are generally monogamous. One unusual exception is the
Yellow-whiskered Greenbul which at least over part of its range
appears to be polygamous and engage in a lekking system. Some species
also have alloparenting arrangements, where non-breeders, usually the
young from earlier clutches, help raise the young of a dominant
breeding pair. Up to five purple-pink eggs are laid in an open tree
nests and incubated by the female. Incubation usually lasts between
11-14 days, and chicks fledge after 12-16 days.