Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Pycnonotus cafer
(red-vented bulbul)

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Datasheet

Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 13 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Vector of Plant Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Pycnonotus cafer
  • Preferred Common Name
  • red-vented bulbul
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Aves
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul) is a noisy, gregarious bird distinguished by a conspicuous crimson pa...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul); adult male. Perched on gate. Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India. October 2012.
TitleAdult
CaptionPycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul); adult male. Perched on gate. Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India. October 2012.
Copyright©K. Hari Krishnan-2012/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul); adult male. Perched on gate. Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India. October 2012.
AdultPycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul); adult male. Perched on gate. Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India. October 2012.©K. Hari Krishnan-2012/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul); feeding at kapok flowers (Ceiba pentandra). Kolkata, West Bengal, India. February 2007.
TitleAdult
CaptionPycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul); feeding at kapok flowers (Ceiba pentandra). Kolkata, West Bengal, India. February 2007.
Copyright©J.M. Garg/ via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul); feeding at kapok flowers (Ceiba pentandra). Kolkata, West Bengal, India. February 2007.
AdultPycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul); feeding at kapok flowers (Ceiba pentandra). Kolkata, West Bengal, India. February 2007.©J.M. Garg/ via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented Bulbul). adult. Padiyathalawa, Ampara district, Sri Lanka. May 2011.
TitleAdult
CaptionPycnonotus cafer (red-vented Bulbul). adult. Padiyathalawa, Ampara district, Sri Lanka. May 2011.
Copyright©Anton Croos-2011/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented Bulbul). adult. Padiyathalawa, Ampara district, Sri Lanka. May 2011.
AdultPycnonotus cafer (red-vented Bulbul). adult. Padiyathalawa, Ampara district, Sri Lanka. May 2011.©Anton Croos-2011/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Pycnonotus cafer (Linnaeus, 1766)

Preferred Common Name

  • red-vented bulbul

International Common Names

  • French: bulbul à ventre rouge; bulbul cafre

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Rußbülbül

Summary of Invasiveness

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Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul) is a noisy, gregarious bird distinguished by a conspicuous crimson patch below the root of the tail. It is aggressive and chases off other bird species and may also help to spread the seeds of other invasive species. It is an agricultural pest, destroying fruit, flowers, beans, tomatoes and peas. It occurs naturally from Pakistan to southwest China and has been introduced to many Pacific Islands, where it has caused serious problems by eating fruit and vegetable crops, as well as nectar, seeds and buds.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Aves
  •                     Order: Passeriformes
  •                         Family: Pycnonotidae
  •                             Genus: Pycnonotus
  •                                 Species: Pycnonotus cafer

Description

Top of page Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul) is about 8.25 inches in length (Berger, 1972) and weighs between 26 and 45 grams (Long, 1981). In general it is dark and is crested (Pratt, 1987) with a white abdomen and rump and is crimson under the tail coverts (Berger, 1981). The immature bird is like the adult except there is some brownish edging on the feathers (Hawaii Audubon Society, 1993). The red-vented bulbul is larger than the red-whiskered bulbul (P. jocosus) (Berger, 1981).
The male and female are similar in appearance, although the male tends to be slightly larger, (Stuart & Stuart 1999, in Vander Velde, 2002). "It is usually found in trees (Kumar & Bhatt 2000), a quick flyer with a flight that is recognisable by being somewhat bouncy rather than even." (Vander Velde, 2002) "The nest is cup-shaped, made of plant matter, with spider webs binding the outside. It is lined with soft material. In it are laid 2 to 5 pale pink to reddish eggs marked with darker spots and streaks. There are often two to three broods each year.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

IndiaPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011
PakistanPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011
Sri LankaPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011
VietnamPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011

Oceania

AustraliaEradicatedIntroducedISSG, 2011
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced1970nulls Invasive ISSG, 2011
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroduced2000.ISSG, 2011
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
New ZealandUnconfirmed recordIntroduced1952ISSG, 2011
SamoaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
TongaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011

Habitat

Top of page Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbuls) live around secondary growth and shrub, cultivation, parks and gardens. They are also found in forest and agricultural areas. (Dept. of Agriculture - WA).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Nutrition
Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbul) consumes fruits (e.g. bananas, lychees and papaya), berries, insects, flower nectar, seeds and buds, (Dept. of Agriculture - WA undated). "Its primary food is berries and fruit. It is known to also eat plant buds, flowers, but it will also eat insects and small lizards (Islam & Williams 2000) and will come to sugar water. (Ralph 1984)" (Vander Velde, 2002).

Reproduction
Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbuls) are known to breed year round (Hawaii Audubon Society, 1993), with a peak between January and October (Berger, 1981). The birds can have up to three broods per season (Long, 1981). At any one time about two to four eggs are laid (Hawaii Audubon Society, 1993). The eggs are pinkish-white base colour and are profoundly blotched with purplish brown (Berger, 1981). The nest is cup-shaped and made of rootlets and sometimes cobwebs (Long, 1981). The incubation period is about 14 days (Berger, 1981)." (Shehata, 1996).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Introduction pathways to new locations
Seafreight (container/bulk):Islam and Williams (2000) describe the red-vented bulbul as nesting in some very unorthodox locations within its native range, including the motor of a ceiling fan and the end of a curtain rod, both within buildings. It could even be speculated that a pair of birds could have constructed a nest in a container on a ship that was readying to come to the Marshalls. (Vander Velde, 2002)
Ship: A fishing boat, originating from an Asian or another Pacific Islands country where the red-vented bulbul is established, could have brought some birds with them. (Vander Velde, 2002)

Local dispersal methods
Escape from confinement: In most parts of the Pacific, introduction is usually blamed on the release, either intentional or accidental, of caged birds. (Meyer 1997, Williams 1983, in Vander Velde, 2002).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Crop production Negative

Impact

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Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbuls) are reported to destroy fruits, flowers, beans, tomatoes, peas and ripe fruit (e.g. bananas and other soft fruits), (Dept. of Agriculture - WA undated). They may also help in the spread of seeds of other invasive species.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Loxioides bailleui (palila)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Gregarious
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Interaction with other invasive species

Prevention and Control

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Preventative measures: In March 1977, the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed that Pycnonotus cafer (red-vented bulbuls) be added to the list of injurious species that should not be imported into the United States without a special permit, (Dept. of Agriculture - WA undated).

Bibliography

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Atkinson, I. A. E. and Atkinson, T. J. 2000. Land vertebrates as invasive species on islands served by the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme. In: Invasive Species in the Pacific: A Technical Review and Draft Regional Strategy. South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Samoa: 19-84.

Barré N., Dutson G. 2000 - Oiseaux de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Liste commentée. Supplément Alauda, 68(3) : 1-48.

Biosecurity New Zealand, undated. Pests and Disease List Red-Vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/red-vented-bulbul

BirdLife International 2006. Pomarea nigra. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/146954/0

Blanvillain, C., Salducci, J.M., Tutururai, G., & Maeura, M. 2003. Impact of introduced birds on the recovery of the Tahiti Flycatcher (Pomarea nigra), a critically endangered forest bird of Tahiti. Biological Conservation, 109, 197-205.

Bomford, M., 2003. Risk Assessment for the Import and Keeping of Exotic Vertebrates in Australia. Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra. http://www.feral.org.au/feral_documents/PC12803.pdf

Department of Agriculture and Food - Western Australia (WA). undated. Pycnonotus cafer Red-vented Bulbul http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/content/pw/vp/bird/redventbulbul.htm

Gill, B.J. Hunt, G.R. and Sirgouant S. 1995. Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) in New Caledonia. Notornis, 42: 214-215.

Pascal, M., Barré, N., De Garine-Wichatitsky, Lorvelec, O., Frétey, T., Brescia, F., Jourdan, H. 2006. Les peuplements néo-calédoniens de vertébébrés : invasions, disparitions. Pp 111-162, in M.-L. Beauvais et al., : Les espèces envahissantes dans l’archipel néo-calédonien, Paris, IRD Éditions, 260 p.+ cédérom

Shehata, Cherie., 1996. Red-vented bulbul - Pycnonotus cafer. University of Hawaii, Botany department.

Thibault, J.C., Meyer, J.Y. 2001. Contemporary extinctions and population declines of the monarchs (Pomarea spp.) in French Polynesia, South Pacific. Oryx 35 (1), 73–80.

Vander Velde, Nancy., 2002. The Red-vented bulbul has come to Micronesia. Aliens - Number 16 2002. ISSN: 1173-5988 (ISSG)

Contributors

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    Reviewed by: Nancy Vander Velde . Biological Consultant. Majuro The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI)
      Compiled by: IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
      Last Modified: Sunday, August 19, 2007

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