Bulbuls make up an incredible family of birds. They are impossible to miss; they lurk everywhere, from urban parks to dense forests; they are loud, even obnoxious at times; they are gregarious and bold; some nest near your homes; some are prized songsters worth thousands of dollars.
There are currently 38 species of bulbuls known to Thailand.
The songbird trade is perhaps the biggest threat to bulbuls in the country. The Straw headed Bulbul has already been extirpated from most of southern Thailand and the Red Whiskered Bulbul, the bird chosen to succeed the Straw headed Bulbul in singing competitions, is suffering from extreme persecution and fast disappearing from its former haunts.
Recent DNA research into the genus Iole shows that there is much to be learnt about bulbuls in southeast Asia; it is a foregone conclusion that in the coming years there will be many more splits or perhaps even new species being added to this genus.
By far the most commonly encountered bulbul in urban areas of southern Thailand, this bird is rather talkative and has an insatiable appetite for bananas!
Olive winged Bulbuls are generally found in forests and mangroves and tend to be less skulking than other forest bulbuls.
One of the largest bulbuls in southern Thailand, this striking bulbul is a gossipy chatterbox which is often heard long before it is spotted.
This plain-looking bulbul is a gregarious forest bird which loves to frequent fruiting trees.
Black headed Bulbul is a beautiful bird with a hidden talent – it actually is a very accomplished singer!
Streak eared Bulbuls are the most commonly encountered urban species of bulbul.
Grey bellied Bulbuls are rather uncommon and finding them at the watering hole was a special treat indeed.
Spectacled Bulbuls are frugivores which also frequent fruiting trees.
Sooty headed Bulbuls are common birds found throughout continental Thailand.
One of the Ioles which was recently split, this former Grey eyed Bulbul is now known as “Baker’s Bulbul”
This juvenile Stripe throated Bulbul is only starting to get the yellow streaking on its face.
Streaked Bulbuls are larger than most southern bulbuls and are not as sociable as their smaller cousins.
Black crested Bulbul is one of the most commonly encountered forest bulbuls.
Scaly breasted Bulbuls are among the most beautiful of all southern bulbul species.
Many people get confused between the Red Eyed Bulbul (bottom right) and Spectacled Bulbul (top left). Seeing them together helps to understand the differences between the two species.