African Red-eyed Bulbul

Pycnonotus nigricans

The African Red-eyed Bulbul naturally inhabits a variety of arid and semi-arid habitats, such as scrublands and thorny savannas, but has also become a familiar garden bird across its range and is usually found within easy reach of reliable water sources – in fact, the provision of man-made waterholes in farming areas have probably aided an increase in their population and an expansion of their range. They feed mainly on fruit, but will also include flowers, nectar, seeds and invertebrates in their diet. Adults grow to a length of about 19cm and weigh approximately 30g.

Red-eyed Bulbuls are mostly encountered in monogamous, territorial pairs, though small flocks are not entirely uncommon. Building the untidy nest, hidden in the fork of a tree or shrub, is mostly the female’s responsibility. Their breeding season spans spring and summer, when clutches of 2 or 3 eggs are incubated by the female for around 2 weeks. Both parents care for the hatchlings, which fledge at about 3 weeks old. The chicks sometimes leave the nest before they are fully able to fly.

The IUCN notes a growing population for the African Red-eyed Bulbul and classifies it as being of least concern. They are to be found in south-west Angola, Namibia, Botswana, extreme western Zimbabawe, Lesotho and South Africa (Eastern, Western and Northern Cape, Free State, North West, Gauteng and western Limpopo).

Where their ranges overlap, the Red-eyed Bulbul will readily crossbreed with both the Cape and Dark-capped Bulbuls.

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