Birds,  Fauna,  Nature

The frisky Himalayan Bulbul: Punk with a mohawk

We decided to spend a quiet vacation in Mukteshwar in Uttarakhand. This time we steered clear of ‘spot-hopping’. Preferred to take it slow and watch the magnificent Himalayan peaks from my room. But then the bird watching itch took over. So I found a local guide. And this morning Bacchi Singh Dangwal landed up early in the morning at our resort with his binoculars and a copy of Grimmett’s guide. Had a leisurely stroll towards the woods surrounding the Indian Veterinary Research Institute Campus, where we encountered quite a few Himalayan feathered friends.

The most common bird around was the Himalayan bulbul (Pycnonotus leucogenys). These birds frequent the Himalayan zones, and this species can be seen in abundance around forests, shrubs, gardens and parks. We found them all along the jungle trail in small flocks of two to five. This was one bird which was quite bold and unafraid of passers-by. These birds are frisky and hardly stay still. Their song is like a burst of nasal gurgling warbles which sounds like tea for two, whichyou-whichyou- whreeu.

The Himalayan bulbul perched on a wild Himalayan cherry tree. Mukteshwar, 5 Nov 2022

Now, I see red-vented bulbuls every day in Sevagram where I live, but this was my first sighting of a Himalayan bulbul. The most distinctive feature of the Himalayan bulbul is its punkish mohawk-like crest. It has a prominent white cheek patch. The Himalayan bulbul has a black face and throat and a yellow vent. Males and females have similar plumage.

The Himalayan bulbul is sometimes called the white-cheeked bulbul. However this is not the preferred name for this bird as it is also used by the white-eared bulbul. How does one distinguish between the white-eared bulbul and the Himalayan bulbul? The Himalyan bulbul has a curved and longer jaunty crest compared to the white-eared bulbul. Remember its punkish mohawk look. The head of the Himalayan bulbul is brown, while the white-eared bulbul has a black head. The white cheek patch is much larger in the white-eared bulbul and has a more oval shape. Its vent is slightly orangy yellow compared to the pure yellow vent of the Himalayan bulbul.

All photographs are copyrighted and clicked by Anshu. Do not use without permission.

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