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Bulbuls form the largest family of birds in the kingdom. There are 37 species found in Thailand, two-thirds of which are found in southern Thailand. Some of the southern species are tricky to tell apart due to their primarily brown plumage and nondescript features.

One such bird is the Spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus erythropthalmos.

The Spectacled Bulbul is commonly confused with other species of bulbul, especially the Red eyed Bulbul. After all, most keen birders will note that both birds have the same, bloodshot-colored eyes. However, look closely and see if you can note the differences:

For one, as its name suggests, the Spectacled Bulbul has a thin yellow ring around the eyes. It also is slightly smaller and lighter in color – the Red eyed Bulbul also sports two tones of brown but both are noticeably darker.

The Spectacled Bulbul is a small bird, usually around 15-17 cm. in length. It has a greyish-tinged belly and breast and a light brown back. The head is rounder than that of other similar species and it sometimes sports a slight crest:

Like most of the other southern bulbuls, these birds are forest dwellers. They are frugivorous and are commonly encountered around figs or fruiting trees. Spectacled Bulbuls will also venture into forest edge and while they are not fond of plantation, will sometimes be found foraging in secondary forest.

Spectacled Bulbuls are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Redlist due to their widespread population throughout Southeast Asia, prolific breeding and their ability to survive in degraded forest habitat. As simple forest birds they offer little attraction in terms of beauty and their voice is nothing to be desired, two important traits which have helped to keep them safe from trappers.

In the hot dry months bulbuls will flock to watering holes to bathe and drink. Being gregarious birds, they often spend the day hanging out with other species of bulbul, helping to keep the larger birds away from their turf through sheer numbers and aggressive calls.

This individual was photographed in Sri Phang Nga National Park.

Categories: Bird of the Month

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