Beautiful Active Songsters
(See also White Head Black Bulbuls)
In general, the whole bulbul family is hardy and easy to care for, thus making them wonderful birds for the beginning softbiller. They are active, alert, vocal, and personable birds with attractive plumage. Many species are crested and tend to stay out in the open which adds to their attractiveness. Most can be kept in mixed species flights, especially if not in a breeding situation.
Unfortunately, like so many other softbills, most species of bulbuls are in danger of becoming extinct in USA aviculture in the near future. With the large variety of species in this family and with bulbul imports being so sporadic, a species is often popular for a couple of years then disappears from aviculture. Bulbuls have so much charm it would be a shame to lose them completely. Particularly in Asian cultures, some bulbul species are prized as songbirds.
All species of bulbuls at this time will benefit from being in breeding situations and not just in display exhibits or songster cages. Bulbuls can be quite long lived with some living into the mid teens.
Most of the bulbul species are excellent flyers and very active thus requiring medium to large aviaries. Although many bulbuls can be kept in smaller cages, a minimum size of 3ft x 5ft x 5ft for a pair of smaller bulbuls is recommend. Bulbuls like to do lots of chasing and fast flying so the largest space possible will keep them happy. Most bulbul species make excellent display birds. The birds typically do not lurk in shrubbery. Instead they perch high and out in the open, often on the tip of a vertical branch. Planted flights are well appreciated and encourage breeding, as well as attract extra livefood. Most of the bulbul species can be kept in mixed-species aviaries peaceably, although when breeding some species can be murderous to other adult and young birds. Unless the flight is large, only one pair of a species of bulbul is recommended as males can be quite aggressive to each other.
Diet For Bulbuls
Bulbuls of all species are generally easy to feed, requiring a base softbill diet of fruits and pellets. Livefood is eagerly taken and is required for breeding. Raised food platforms in the flights are appreciated, but they will use food bowls placed on the ground. Some species are such swift and agile flyers that they will hawk insects from the air and will even catch mealworms that are thrown to them.
Most species of bulbuls are sexually monomorphic so sexing must be done to ensure gender. Most bulbuls are moderately easy to breed if given the right conditions. Both sexes call throughout the year although the male becomes very vocal at breeding time. The female displays by crouching low with rump up, fluttering her wings while calling softly. Males can be very aggressive during the breeding season, killing other bulbuls and other species, even larger than themselves such as turacos, so keen observations need to be made in mixed species aviaries. They can literally chase other aviary occupants to death. Intense chasing between a bonded male and female can lead to the male grabbing the female in flight, with them both tumbling to the ground still linked. Nest building usually follows.
Generally seasonal breeders (early spring to mid summer), they like nesting inside shrubbery or in the high secluded corners of the aviary. Nests are made with grasses, fibers, and small twigs, building their own or utilizing open-fronted boxes or open finch baskets. Usually 2-3 eggs are laid, and incubation is about 14 days by the female. Chicks are fed livefood by both parents, and fledge at around 14 days. They are fully weaned about 2-3 weeks later, and most sexually mature the next year.
Bulbuls can be handraised and become tame, but do not make good household pet birds. They do not mimic human speech, and cannot be trained to stay on perches or shoulders.
Bulbul Species Kept By the Davis Lund Aviaries
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Copyright 07/09 Kateri Davis