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Project Black #6 — Red-Vented Bulbul

The Red-Vented Bulbul seems always to be in motion. The bulbul are monogamous, non-migratory birds who mate for life and raise two broods (up to three eggs per clutch) yearly. Bulbul eat fruits and do hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to Hawaii’s fruit crops each year. They also eat insects on the wing.

Bulbul are a non-native species and are considered invasive — not just because of crop damage, but because of their aggressive nature and breeding practices. Bulbuls have crowded out many of the native birds and claimed those territories for themselves.

I took this photo on the University of Hawaii at Moanoa campus, but there are many bulbul right here at home. Quite a large contingency of them live in the mango tree outside my front window. They squabble and sing, fight and play within its branches all day long. They also dig long thin gashes in the mangoes when they feed. Once the fruit is opened by the bulbul, it becomes infested with other critters — flies and such — and is often spoiled beyond redemption before the tree releases its grasp and drops the fruit to the ground.

Anna, of Anna Carson’s Photography, hosts Project Black
check out her website for the links to other players.

my other Project Black photos

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. It’s an impressive looking bird (love the punk hair) but I have to admit I started giggling as soon as I saw the title – in Hebrew a bulbul is slang for a little boy’s penis, so a red-vented one would definitely not be considered a good thing LOL.

  2. I always hate it when invasive species are so cool looking, because it makes me feel conflicted. On the one hand, cool looking bird, where on the other, horrible bird for destroying everything it can and taking over the habitat.

  3. I see no advantage to flight if you’re just going to turn around and be monogamous anyway. How sure are ornithologists of this?

  4. He is a handsome bird… he does look like he has a mean streak in him, though. The behavior you describe reminds me of our Mocking Bird… you have to grow to love them 😉

  5. Birds are hard to photograph (at least for me) and you caught a great one. He looks so intent on that insect or mango. Your description of bulbuls reminds me of bluejays in Oregon, at least in the aggressive, loud, bully sort of way.

    Diesel–even more expensive than gas, which is $4.819 for premium in my town now.

  6. When we were in Hawaii many years ago, I would have sworn the tour guide told us there weren’t any native birds in Hawaii…like I would think he might be up on the fauna of the islands. I just googled birds of Hawaii and found there are LOTS of beautiful birds on this website. I can’t really remember the story he told and why I would even in the remotest part of my mind think why I would believe something like that. There are lots of different kinds of those bul bul birds.

  7. Carletta — the first time I saw a Bulbul I asked OC, what kind of Cardinal is that?

    Karen — like a baboon, he has a colorful bottom.

    Robin — OW! Thanks for sharing. lol

    Janet — I wish I’d have had Janet’s info before I wrote the post! What a riot.

    Melli — compared to Attila the Hun, maybe.

    Brian — not just Hawaii, but yeah, I agree.

    Doug — and it is the male of the species who nags ….

    JC — I do rather like this bird. IT is a facinatinf creature to watch.

    Jeremiah — I know just how you feel. I love watching the Bulbul, and the mongeese and the anoles, all of which played their own part in almost wiping out Hawaii’s native birds.

    Nessa — yes. He was about to ambush a pigeon and start a fight over a lunch that was just barely being unpacked by a hungry student who hadn’t gotten anything out to drop yet!

    Ivanhoe — we like it here.

    David — most days.

    Willow — I know Bluejays! I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. They are loud, noisy, nosy and rude — just like Bulbuls.

    Amber — Hawaii has VERY FEW native birds. The Bulbul is NOT native. He was shipped in here from South America. Whatever website you visited couldn’t have been about NATIVE birds. It must have been about current species living here.

  8. He looks great though! We have a bird like that in Europe too, they call them Magpie I think, I’m not quite sure, I looked it up but still?
    They rob other birds nests and take over territories too, their character is quite similar!

  9. We get bulbuls here too, but I’ve never seen one with red! We just get plain greyish black birds.

  10. Quilly, I am very impressed with all your Project Black posts. Very creative and impressive. Keep up the great work!

  11. He does look like a cardinal with hygiene issues… Poor baby. Must be hard to live with a bad rep, though that beak looks a touch sharp and nasty. Cool photo.

  12. Liked the shot very much, couldn’t help giggling at Robin’s comment. In fact i liked all your project black shots.

  13. well I guess it is red vented isn’t it, hehe. I see the red……I thought for a minute….what is a vent……oh yeh.. haha I guess most bird love fruit, they are tearing apart my figs in effie……..but I got some before they destroyed them all.

    I just got back to Georgia, I am not quite right in the head yet. We had one horendous trip back, water pump went out, but probably saved us from a wreck, because we had a tire that was down to the wire on the inside of the tire where you couldn’t see it. some really strange tire wear on that tire……so we ended up along side the road in the middle of the night in Mississippi…….what a trip……

  14. Juliana — aren’t the words birs and pest synonyms?

    Jientje — we have Magpie’s here, too. They behave the same, but look diffrent.

    Jenty — we have Red Vented Bulbuls and Red Whiskered Bulbuls. That has made me wonder … but I really don’t want to know!

    Alice — thank yu.

    SN — I agree.

    Melli — waiting t hear how it goes.

    Dr. John — aren’t most birds nasty?

    Raven — since he is the thriving species on the island, I dn’t think he finds it hard to live with his rep at all.

    iShare — Robin’s comment is my fave on this post.

    Nea — birds will be birds — and I am glad you are alright.

  15. He’s a beauty!
    I saw a gorgeous cardinal yesterday with a grand tuft of hair like that on top of his royal red head.
    Birds are so fun to watch.
    My dad loves birds, and I have inherited the love of bird watching.

  16. I got a lesson in birds and a great picture by coming here today. Two for the price of one. What a treat. 🙂

  17. JD — I had a pigeon knock on the door today. Wait until you see those pics!

    Robert — you know I’m a teacher, right?

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