also investigate bark for titbits. Unlike other Bulbuls, they forage on
the ground, picking grass seeds and titbits, even from roads and pavements.
Merbah Kapur (Malay)
Among the most common birds in Singapore; it is said that it is almost
impossible NOT to see Yellow-Vented Bulbuls.
They are found nearly everywhere except in the deep forest. Originally
from the mangroves and coastal scrub, they have adapted to become
one of the most common birds in cultivated areas (parks, gardens,
The success of the Yellow-Vented Bulbul is probably due to their wide
ranging diet of both plants and animals.
They are fond of berries and small fruits, especially figs and cinnamon
tree fruits. They sip nectar, nibble on young shoots, and snack on
insects. They forage in bushes and trees for berries and insects,
and may even catch swarming insects on the wing.
and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
features: Small (20cm); slight crest; white face;
yellow under tail coverts.
Adult: Olive brown crown,
nape, underparts; white side of head, eyebrow, throat,
belly; lores black; breast whitish streaked brown; black
bill, feet, eyes. No white on tail.
Genders look alike.
Sides of head brownish; throat greyish.
Described as a pleasing liquid bubbling chatter; loud
harsh alarm call chweit-chweit.
Status in Singapore: Very
common resident throughout the island and North and South
World distribution: Southeast
Asia from Myanmar to the Philippines and Java. Not found
Classification: Family Pycnonotidae.
World 137 species, Singapore 10 species (1 introduced).
Yellow-Vented Bulbuls are solitary and feed alone or in pairs, although
fruiting trees may attract a flock of them. But they roost in small communities
in dense bushes or trees.
Breeding: Yellow-Vented Bulbuls breed
widely in Singapore in February to June. Courtship involves wing and song
displays. They raise and lower the crown crest as they sing.
Yellow-Vented Bulbuls build well-camouflaged but flimsy, loose, deep, cup-shaped
nests. They use grass, leaves, roots, vine stems, twigs. The nest may be
untidy on the outside but are neatly lined with plant fibres. They nest
in a wide range of places from low bushes, creepers to high trees. They
are so used to humans that they may even nest in ornamental plants in residential
gardens and even balconies! 2-5 eggs are laid, variable in colour from white
to pinkish, with lots of reddish-brown to lavender spots. Both parents incubate
and raise the young.
Migration? Yellow-Vented Bulbuls don't
migrate seasonally, but they appear to be high nomadic, moving from place
to place regularly.
Status and threats: Yellow-Vented Bulbuls
have adjusted well to humans and are not at risk. However, as a family,
the Bulbuls are at risk. About 30% of the Bulbuls originally found in Singapore
are extinct and 40% are at risk. These include the Straw-headed Bulbul (P.
zeylanicus), Black-headed Bulbul (P. atriceps), Red-eyed Bulbul
(P. brunneus) and Buff-vented Bulbul (Hypsipetes charlotte).
This is particularly sad because Bulbuls are not only delightful birds,
but also play an important role. As fruit eaters, they disperse the seeds
of plants. As insect-eaters, they keep the population of damaging insects
- Morten Strange,
"A Photographic Guide to Birds of Malaysia and Singapore: including
Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Borneo", Periplus, 2000
(p. 240: description, voice, habits, distribution, status, photo).
- Morten Strange,
"Tropical Birds of Malaysia and Singapore", Periplus
Editions, 2000 (p. 46: habits, habitat, photo).
- Lim Kim Seng and
Dana Gardner, "Birds: An Illustrated Field Guide to the Birds
of Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing Ltd., 1997 (p. 107: identification,
status in Singapore, distribution, diagram, number of species).
- G W H Davison
and Chew Yen Fook, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular
Malaysia and Singapore", New Holland Publishers Ltd., 1995
(p. 83: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, photo).
- Morten Strange
and Allen Jeyarajasingam, "Birds: A Photographic Guide to the
Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing,
1993 (p. 54: description, distribution, habits, habitat, photo).
- Clive Briffett,
"A Guide to the Common Birds of Singapore", BP Science
Centre,1992 (p. 99: habit, habitat).
- Christopher Hails,
"Birds of Singapore" illustrated by Frank Jarvis, Times
Editions, 1987 reprinted 1995 (p. 118: habits, description, status in
Singapore, and lovely drawings of the birds).
- Lim Kim Seng,
"Vanishing Birds of Singapore", Nature Society (Singapore),
1992 (p. 13: status of the family, with more details on individual endangered
Bulbuls in the rest of the book).
- Lim Kim Seng,
"Pocket Checklist of the Birds of the Republic of Singapore",
Nature Society (Singapore), 1999 (Abundance, status, Chinese and Malay
- M W F Tweedie,
"Common Birds of the Malay Peninsula", Longman,1970
(p. 45: description, distribution, habits, habitat, drawing).
- G C Madoc, "An
Introduction to Malayan Birds", Malayan Nature Society, 1947
(p. 162-163: description, habits, habitat).
- Sir John A S Bucknill
and E N Chasen, "Birds of Singapore and South-East Asia",
Tynron Press, 1927, edition 1990 (p. 181-182: identification, status
in Singapore, distribution, field notes on habits, drawings).
- Dr. Harold G Cogger
(et. al), "Encyclopedia of Animals"; Bulbuls and Leafbirds
by P A Clancey, 1993 (p. 397-8: habits).
- Prof. Dr. Yong
Hoi Sen (ed.), "The Encyclopedia of Malaysia: Animals";
Songbirds by Siti Hawa bt Yatim, Editions Didier Millet, 1998 (p. 46-47: