The red-cheeked bulbul belongs to the bulbul family, the passerine detachment. The red-cheeked bulbul got its name for two bright red spots under the eyes.
Bulbul are small and medium-sized birds that inhabit subtropical and subequatorial regions. Their plumage is dominated by various colors from brown to olive. Many representatives of this family have tufts on their heads, and light threadlike feathers flutter on the back of their heads.
Bulbul or short-toed thrushes are a family of birds that contains 15-21 genera. These are small birds living on trees and shrubs, ranging in size from a sparrow to a thrush, 13 to 29 cm. The tail is long, the beak of almost all species is slightly elongated and slightly hooked at the end. Females are slightly smaller than males.
External signs of a red-cheeked bulbul
The red-cheeked real bulbul is a small bird, about 20 cm long and weighing 25-42 grams.
The upper part of the body is covered with brown feathers, and the lower one is whitish plumage, on the chest there is a dark ring, open at shoulder level. A thin, black crest rises on the head, and an oblong red spot is located behind the eye. The upper side of the head is dark, the throat and cheeks are white, the abdomen is light brown.
Red-cheeked real bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus).
The wings are brownish gray. The brownish-gray tail of this bird is long, brown in color with white tips of feathers, the undertail is bright red. The beak is of medium size, straight and sharp. The legs are painted dark gray.
Three fingers are facing forward, one - back, they end in sharp claws. The color of the plumage of males and females is the same, only young birds look dimmer.
Spreading the red-cheeked bulbul
The red-cheeked bulbul is common in South Asia. The habitat of the species covers tropical Asia and stretches from India to Southeast Asia and China. The red-cheeked bulbul lives in Nepal, India, and was also introduced by humans to New South Wales in Australia, Mauritius, Florida and North America.
There is no sexual dimorphism in the red-cheeked bulbul; males and females are colored the same.
Habitats of red-cheeked bulbul
The red-cheeked bulbul lives in areas with a warm climate. Most willingly, they settle in gardens or in the vicinity of fruit plantations. Some populations are found in open areas, while others prefer dense forests. A red-cheeked bulbul is not a rarity in gardens, even in those located within the boundaries of large and noisy cities. Birds keep in pairs or few flocks, and each pair adheres to a constant territory throughout the year. Bulbuls live in open woodlands, inhabited agricultural lands, humid jungles.
Previously, this species of bird was distributed only in Asia and China, but was introduced by humans to Australia, Mauritius and Florida.
The lifestyle of a real red-cheeked bulbul
Red-cheeked bulbuls are gregarious and restless birds leading a sedentary lifestyle. Only species inhabiting the northern regions make seasonal migrations, chicks are hatched in the north, and fly away to winter to places with a warmer climate.
For the night, flocks of bulbul sit on the branches of tall trees, and at dawn they leave the place of their lodging and spend most of the day looking for food, not forgetting to call each other in ringing voices. As a group, they carefully examine every twig on the tree in search of a juicy berry or sweet flower bud. Outside the nesting season, when bulbuls live in pairs in jealously protected areas, near fruit trees, they gather in rather large flocks of up to 50 birds. The flight of the red-cheeked bulbul resembles the flight of woodpeckers.
During feeding, the birds form flocks of 3-5 individuals, continuously making sounds.
Feeding the red-cheeked bulbul
Red-cheeked bulbuls prefer palm fruits, laurel plants and papayas, and pick overripe fruits that have fallen to the ground. Birds peck berries, comfortably clinging to a branch.
Red-cheeked bulbuls eat parts of flowers, nectar, spiders and insects, even ants.
Not all bulbul feed on trees: some species prefer to pick fruits, berries and insects right on the ground. The brown bulbul, inhabiting Africa, feed mainly on beetles.
Reproduction of red-cheeked real bulbul
The nesting season for red-cheeked bulbul lasts from January to August. Bulbul males notify competitors about the occupied territory, singing their short chirping songs, consisting of flooded trills. In this way, they lure the female and invite to the construction of the nest in the chosen area. At this time, the male behaves aggressively and drives out competitors from the nesting territory, the area of which ranges from 4000 to 8000 m2.
Females build nests in the bushes. In clutch, as a rule, from 2 to 3 eggs.
A pair of bulbul hides its nest among bushes, under thatched roofs, in niches of buildings. Birds build a cupped nest from soft blades of grass, rootlets, and other plant material. Grass-woven walls allow rainwater to drain away without accumulating in the tray. The female lays 2-4 light pinkish eggs covered with brown specks. Both parents take part in breeding, taking turns incubating the clutch for 11-12 days.
Bulbul chicks are born naked and blind, but they grow very quickly and open their eyes after 3 days. Adult birds feed them with soft insects and thick caterpillars. After two weeks, the chicks leave the nest and feed on berries and fruits on their own, but do not refuse parental offerings. At the age of 3 weeks, young birds take the wing. In one season, an adult pair of bulbul can feed two or three broods.
The voice of a red-cheeked real bulbul is like a joyful whistle of a man.
Keeping bulbuls in captivity
Bulbul has long been kept in captivity and not only as songbirds. Males of some species sing beautifully, but the song of the red-eared bulbul was described by one bird lover as the most unattractive of all bird trills. Indomitable fighting enthusiasm appears in male bulbuls during the mating season; this feature was used by people in the past, arranging fights of these warlike birds in the likeness of cock fights.
Naturalist Brehm mentions that in Ceylon and India, locals gather for male bulbul tournaments, for which the chicks are accustomed to a strong thread leash tied to the bird's leg. During the fight, especially angry males are pulled away by the string, as they can kill each other.
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