Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Pycnonotus goiavier (Scopoli, 1786)

Species:P. goiavier
Common Names:Yellow-vented Bulbul
Status:Common resident


The Yellow-vented Bulbul is one of the most familiar birds in the parks and gardens. It can often be seen feeding on small flowering shrubs such as the Sendudok (Melastoma malabaricum) and Simpoh Air (Dillenia suffructicosa).

Size 20–21 cm

Read more about the Passeriformes order.
Read more about the Pycnonotidae family.


This species ranges from Indochina, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore to Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Bali, Lombok and the Philippines.


Found throughout Singapore and its offshore islands.

Locality Map

General Biology

The Yellow-vented Bulbul is one of the more common resident birds in Singapore. Found in most habitats except dense forest, it is now slowly getting less common in urban areas. A rather dull bird, the splash of yellow undertail coverts brings some colour to its brown plumage. Its rich bubbling song is often heard in the early morning and late evening in urban gardens and parks, The bulbul builds its cup-shaped nest in the most surprising locations, often close to human habitation - garden shrubs, potted plantsartificial plants and baskets hung in garages and balconies. It does not recycle its nest or reuse the old materials.

When not foraging, it spends most of the time in comfort behaviour like bathing, followed by preening.

The call has been documented on video: adult HERE and juvenile HERE..

The nest is a cup-shaped structure of plant materials, sometimes incorporated with used used plastic bag and tissue paper.

An adult was found entangled in a large spider's web but after much struggling, managed to free itself. A chick fell or was pushed from its nest and rescued - see HERE. It was cared for until fully recovered - see HERE.


The diet of the Yellow-vented Bulbul includes a wide variety of plant food: 

1. Fruits/seeds of Acacia mangiumArchontophoenix alexandrae, Neem (Azadirachta indica), Kenidai (Bridellia tomentosa), Papaya (Carica papaya), Caryota mitis, Cissus hastate, Dillenia suffruticosa, Weeping Fig (Ficus banjamina) as well as other fig species.), Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis), Common Mahang (Macaranga bancana), Giant Mahang (Macaranga gigantea), Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus undatus), Mango (Mangifera indica), Melastoma malabathricum, Indian Cherry (Muntingia calabura), Indian Curry Tree (Murraya konegii), Banana (Musa cultivars, Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), Australian Mulberry (Pipturus argenteus), Madras Thorn (Pithecellobium dulce), Rhopaloblaste ceramica, Solanum sp., Syzugium jambos, Tabernaemontana corymbosa, Water Canna (Thalia geniculata), Vitex pubescens. 

2. Flower nectar of Ageratum conyzoides, Calliandra haematocephala, Callistemon rigidus, Blue Pea (Clitoria sp.), Dracaena reflexa, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Schefflera actinophylla, African Tulip (Spathodea campanulata), Syzygium sp., Water Canna (Thalia geniculata) and Golden Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus).     

3. Flower/buds of Arachis pintoi and Averrhoa carambola.

4. Insects that include ants, alate termites, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpliiars, etc. Much of these are taken from the air, especially alate ants and termites, "snatched by rocketing up vertically from an exposed perch into swarms passing overhead…” according to Wells (2007).

Life Cycle

Breeds all year round. The nest is cup-shaped, composing of dried plant matter like leaves, slender stems of creepers, fibres, twigs and even tissue paper. The clutch of 2-4 eggs takes 12-13 days to hatch and the chicks need 10-14 days to fledge. Both adults help in incubating, leaving the nest regularly during the day to forage for food. Only at night will one adult broods the chicks throughout the night. The first-hatched chick in a brood of two may indulge in sibilicide, kicking the younger out of the nest (Wee, 2003). The fledglings are cared by both adults. Although able to feed independently after four days or more, the adults remain caring for them for about a month,

Ecological Role

It is a seed dispersal of many plants.


Wang, L. K. 2011. Bulbuls. Pp. 250, 254. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors). Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore. 552 pp.

Wang, L.K. & Hails, C.J. 2007. An annotated checklist of birds of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 15: 1–179, Singapore.

Wee, Y. C. 2003. The ubiquitous yellow-vented bulbul. Nature Watch 11(4): 10-12.

Wee, Y. C. 2009. Observations on the behaviour of the yellow-vented bulbul, Pycnonotus goiavier (Scopoli) in two instances of failed nesting. Nature in Singapore 2: 347-352.

Wells, D. R. 2007. The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London. 800 pp.

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