Bird’s-eye view – African red-eyed bulbul

Okaepe living museum and school project
July 18, 2012
Camping at Spitzkoppe
July 18, 2012

African Red-eyed Bulbul 

Pycnonotus nigricans

Roberts No 567

by Pompie Burger

The Red-eyed Bulbul is probably one of the better-known and more frequently seen garden birds in Namibia. These birds are not only common; they make themselves equally conspicuous in our gardens with their talkative, obtrusive and often loud behaviour.


They are partial to sitting on exposed perches and are garden birds par excellence, ever-present at the feeding tray and bird baths, especially when fruit has been put out for them. As far as the watchdog aspect is concerned, bulbuls are excellent, and are quick to scold a trespassing snake, cat or owl. For some reason they ignore our dog, perhaps because they’ve realised he’s not Dangerman at number 7, Borchers Street.

Their look-alike brother, the Dark-capped Bulbul, is not that common in Namibia. These birds are found in the north-eastern parts of the country, while the Cape Bulbul does not occur in Namibia. The African Red-eyed Bulbul is endemic to the south-western regions of Africa, their distribution ranging northwards into southern Angola, westwards into Botswana and southwards into the northern Cape.

The other two bulbuls found in Namibia are the Terrestrial and Yellow-bellied Bulbuls, both rather secretive and seen less often compared to the African Red-eyed and Dark-capped species. They also occur only in the northern parts of the country like the Black-capped Bulbul, and are usually seen in the undergrowth, foraging on the ground for food. Our garden bulbuls have an interesting preference for the water dripping from the geyser and the water feature.

The Red-eyed Bulbuls invariably remind you of their presence when they settle down for the night. They kick up quite a racket and at dawn are usually one of the first birds to call. They usually move around in pairs or small groups and often mingle with other species in bird get-togethers.

About the author:
Based in Windhoek, Pompie Burger is an orthopaedic surgeon whose part-time passion is photography, in particular wildlife, and specifically birds. This regularly takes him to the most remote corners of the country, resulting in riveting images and articles. 
Pompie is the author and photographer of the coffee table book Birds of Namibia, which was published in 2008. The book contains articles and photographs which attest to the insight and knowledge of an accomplished observer.
Read more of his articles in our Birding Section.

This article appeared in the April ‘06 edition of Travel News Namibia.


Travel News Namibia
Travel News Namibia
Travel News Namibia is a high-quality glossy Namibia travel and lifestyle magazine tasked with promoting Namibia to the world. With riveting stories, first-hand encounters and magnificent photographs showcasing tourism, travel, nature, adventure and conservation, TNN is the ultimate and most comprehensive guide to exploring Namibia. Travel News Namibia is published in five different editions per year. These include four English- language editions and one German. Travel News Namibia is for sale in Namibia and South Africa.

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