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Black Bulbul - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Hypsipetes leucocephalus)
Subspecies H. l. nigerrimus
Photo © by bievreJJ
Hsinchu, Taiwan, 18 April, 2017

Alternative name: Himalayan Black Bulbul

Hypsipetes leucocephalus


White headed subspecies
Photo © by James Eaton
Emei Shan, Sichuan, China


  • 23.5-26.5cm (9¼-10½ in)
  • Slate grey or black (depending on the race)
  • Red beak, legs, and feet
  • Fluffy crest
  • Long tail

Sexes similar

  • No crest
  • Whitish underparts
  • Grey breast band
  • Upperparts are tinged brown


Subspecies H. l. psaroides
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Dalhousie Hill Station, Himachal Pradesh, Alt. 6900 ft above MSL, India, 19 June 2014

From the Himalayas of Afghanistan to Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma to China and Indochina. Occurs also on Taiwan.


Formerly regarded as conspecific with Malagasy Bulbul. Furthermore, Square-tailed Bulbul was recently split from this species.


Subspecies H. l. nigerrimus, Adult left & Juvenile
Photo © by Mark Bruce
Manjhou, Kenting National Park, Taiwan, 15 June 2009

About 10 subspecies recognized[1]:

  • H. l. psaroides: Himalayas of northern Afghanistan to eastern Assam and south-eastern Tibet
  • H. l. nigrescens: Eastern Assam (south of the Brahmaputra) to western Burma
  • H. l. ambiens: North-eastern Burma to south-western China (western Yunnan in Irrawaddy watershed)
  • H. l. concolor: Eastern Burma to south-western China, eastern Thailand, Laos and southern Vietnam
  • H. l. sinensis: Eastern Burma to south-western China; winters to Thailand and southern Laos
  • H. l. stresemanni: South-western China (Likiang Mountains of north-western Yunnan) to Thailand and southern Laos
  • H. l. leucothorax: Eastern China (Sichuan to Shaanxi and Hebei); winters to southern Laos
  • H. l. leucocephalus: Maritime provinces of south-eastern China
  • H. l. perniger: Hainan (southern China)
  • H. l. nigerrimus: Taiwan
  • leucothorax, leucocephalus and stresemanni have white heads, the remainder have all black heads.


Tall moist-deciduous and evergreen forest up to 2500m.



The diet includes seeds, insects, nectar and berries.


Their breeding season runs from April to July. They build the nest in a tree or bush; 2-4 eggs are laid.


Recording © by Alok Tewari
Sat Tal, Dist. Nainital, Uttarakhand, Alt. 5500 ft above MSL, October-2016
Call and song given at Sunset time.

In Culture

In indigenous Taiwanese culture the Black Bulbul is revered as the Fire Bird. It is said that they brought a glowing red coal to the people and thus gave them fire. The hot coal forever left the bird with a brilliant coral-red coloured bill.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Wikipedia
  3. BF Member observations
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved July 2015)

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.