Red-whiskered BulbulPycnonotus jocosus

adult
Martin Hale/VIREO

Family

Description

When a few Red-whiskered Bulbuls escaped from an aviary in the Miami area in 1960, they found an environment perfectly suited to their needs. The climate was not too different from that of eastern India, where they had originated; and the suburb of Kendall, Florida, was heavily planted with exotic trees and shrubs, providing the bulbuls with abundant berries throughout the year. The birds quickly became established, but they have not spread much beyond Kendall. Another introduced population is common around Honolulu, Hawaii.

Habitat

Suburbs with plantings of exotic fruiting trees. Introduced in North America, found only in residential areas with wide variety of exotic trees and shrubs that provide berries and small fruits at all times of year. In native range in southern Asia, found in forest edges, semi-open areas, towns.

Feeding Diet

Berries, small fruits, insects. With its small bill, usually does not feed on large fruits until they are overripe or punctured by other birds. Important items in Florida include berries and fruits of Brazilian pepper, figs, lantana, jasmine, and others. Takes nectar, eats pieces of flowers and green shoots of vegetation. Also eats many insects.

Feeding Behavior

Except when nesting, travels in flocks to feed at fruiting plants. Takes insects by flying out to capture them in mid-air, hovering to pick them from bark, or searching among foliage.

Nesting

In Florida, breeding season is mainly February to June. Florida birds seem not to defend territories strongly, often tolerating other bulbuls near the nest. In courtship display, one bird may approach the other, fluttering its wings and bowing; both birds raise and lower crests repeatedly. Nest site is usually fairly low in shrub, vine, or small tree, typically about 2-8' above the ground, often well concealed. Nest, placed in fork of branch, is a cup made of grass, weeds, rootlets, and casuarina needles. Outside of nest usually decorated with pieces of paper or plastic, large flakes of bark, or other debris. Eggs: Usually 3. Pinkish, profusely mottled with purple or reddish spots. Incubation is by both parents, 12-14 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Age of young at first flight not well known.

Eggs

Usually 3. Pinkish, profusely mottled with purple or reddish spots. Incubation is by both parents, 12-14 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Age of young at first flight not well known.

Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Age of young at first flight not well known.

Conservation

Does not seem to compete seriously with native birds in Florida.

Range

Apparently permanent resident throughout its native range, and introduced populations seem to do very little wandering.

Similar Species

adult

Cedar Waxwing

With thin, lisping cries, flocks of Cedar Waxwings descend on berry-laden trees and hedges, to flutter among the branches as they feast. These birds are sociable at all seasons, and it is rare to see just one waxwing. Occasionally a line of waxwings perched on a branch will pass a berry back and forth, from bill to bill, until one of them swallows it. This species has a more southerly range than the Bohemian Waxwing, and is a familiar visitor to most parts of this continent south of the Arctic.

Bohemian Waxwing

During summer in Alaska and western Canada, scattered Bohemian Waxwings may be seen perching on spruce tops and flying out to catch insects in mid-air. In winter these same birds become sociable nomads, with large flocks wandering the northwest in search of berries. Sometimes they stray as far east as New England, but in most areas their numbers are quite variable from year to year (the name "Bohemian" reflects their unconventional and seemingly carefree lifestyle).

adult male

Phainopepla

In the desert southwest, Phainopeplas and mistletoe rely on each other. Phainopeplas feed heavily on berries of this parasitic plant; after the berries pass through the bird's digestive tract, the seeds often stick to branches of mesquite or other trees, where they can sprout new mistletoe clumps. Flocks of these slim and elegant birds may gather to feed on seasonally abundant crops such as elderberries.

Vireo

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