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Light-vented Bulbul - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Guy R.H. Miller
Lamma Island, Hong Kong, 02 February 2005

Alternative name: Chinese Bulbul

Pycnonotus sinensis


18-19 cm (7-7½ in)

  • Black crown
  • Black moustachial stripe
  • Broad white postocular stripes extending across nape.
  • White spot on ear coverts
  • Gray mantle and rump
  • Olive-green wing coverts and tail.
  • Underparts whitish with broad gray or brownish chest band
  • Eye, bill and feet dark.

Juvenile similar to adult, but head and underparts uniform gray. Immature like adult but head and breast pattern paler and more blended.

Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Naha, Okinawa, Japan, 4 September 2019


Asia: found in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, southern Japan
Southeast Asia: Indochina, Laos, Vietnam



Photo © by Neil Fifer
Hong Kong, 21 June 2005

There are 4 subspecies[1]:

  • P. s. sinensis:
  • Central and eastern China (Sichuan and southern Shaanxi) east to Jiangsu, and south to Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian; also isolated sites in Beijing and Hebei); partially migratory, some moving in winter to central Vietnam, Hainan, and South Korea
  • P. s. hainanus:
  • South China (south-western Guangdong and southern Guangxi); northern Vietnam; Hainan
  • P. s. formosae:
  • P. s. orii:
  • South Ryukyu Islands (Yonaguni and Ishigaki)

Previously recognized P. s. hoyi from Middle Yangtze River Valley (Sichuan, Hubei and Hunan) was described from a juvenile specimen and is a junior synonym of nominate.


Open woodland, srub, cultivated areas, orchards, gardens with large shrubs.



Their diet consists of a variety of berries, figs, fruit and vegetables, with the addition of insects such as dipteran flies.


Nest is a firm cup made of broad grasses and lined with finer grass and rootlets. Other materials sometimes incorporated. Clutch of 3-4 eggs, rarely five.


Song is a strident whistled warble often repeated. Calls rather nasal, sometimes subdued.


Largely resident but northern populations migratory.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Fishpool, L. & Tobias, J. (2019). Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/57937 on 5 October 2019).
  4. Brazil, M. (2018). Birds of Japan. Helm, London. ISBN 978-1-4729-1386-9
  5. Brazil, M. (1991). The Birds of Japan. Smithsonian Inst. Press. Washington, D.C. ISBN 1-56098-030-3
  6. Takeshi Y. (2002) Seasonal variation of plumage color in Japanese Lightvented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis orii in the Yaeyama Group, Southern Ryukyus. Ornithol. Sci. 1: 155–158
  7. Takeshi Y. (2006) Taxonomic status of populations of the light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis (Gmelin, 1789) (Passeriformes: Pycnonotidae) in Taiwan and the southern Ryukyus. Zoological Studies 45 (2): 168-179.

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