Red vented bulbul

Pycnonotus cafer

Red vented bulbul

Red vented bulbul

Legal Status: Unwanted Organism - MPI
Status in New Zealand: Investigating
Organism: Birds

Other common names: bulbul cafre (French)

This species is being investigated in New Zealand and is an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993. If you see this bird, report it to the Ministry for Primary Industry Pests and Diseases Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.


The red vented bulbul is a medium-sized bird about the same size as a starling (20 cm). Red vented bulbuls are active birds with a generally dark in appearance with a white abdomen and rump and a distinctive crimson-red patch beneath its tail. The upper parts are generally smoke-brown to black with each feather being darker in the centre, giving a scaled appearance. The head is partially crested and black, the throat is black and the underparts are grey white. The breast is dark and faintly scaled, the under-tail coverts are red, the tail is brown with a white tip and the bill is black. The immature bird is similar in appearance to the adult except there is some brownish edging on the feathers.

Red vented bulbul sound sample (.mp3 file)


Red vented bulbuls are known to cause significant damage to fruit and vegetable crops and aggressively chase and attack other birds. They will feed on native fruits, berries, insects, flower nectar, seeds and buds displacing species such as Kereru by their aggressive competitive nature. They may also help in the spread of seeds of other invasive species.


The red vented bulbul is native to parts of Asia (Pakistan to southwest China) and has been introduced to a number of Pacific Islands where it is now considered to be a serious invasive pest.


In the 1950’s a small population of about 50 red vented bulbuls became established between Takapuna and Mt Eden after some were released from a ship. It took until 1955 for them to be completely eradicated, and since the late 1960’s it has been illegal to import them.

In September 2006, a small number of red vented bulbuls were eradicated from Parnell, Auckland.

In February 2013, the Ministry for Primary Industries received reports that a small number of these birds were once again present in the wider Auckland area. The Ministry worked in partnership with the Auckland Council and the Department of Conservation to capture the birds and prevent their establishment in New Zealand.


Page last updated: 24 August 2016