Yellow-vented Bulbul: Drying after the rain?

posted in: Miscellaneous | 4

Lena Chow made an interesting observation on Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) at Aljunied Park, Singapore one day in June 2006:

“…after a heavy downpour they fly out of a spot in the treetop for about 2 metres and immediately fly back into the same spot, repeating this for quite a while. It’s quite a sight when a dozen or so bulbuls do this simultaneously, looks like a choreographed dance of sorts! I guess this must have something to do with drying themselves, but does anyone know if there’s anything more to this behaviour? The other birds in the park are nowhere to be seen at this time.”

Our bird specialist R. Subaraj has this to say: “Most interesting observation. I cannot think of any other reason for this behaviour. You may be right in assuming that it has something to do with the drying process though we should continue observations on this ‘dance’ to see if there is more to it than meets the eye.”

Note: We need more observations by more birders before we can even try to understand this strange behaviour. So birders in the field, send in your observations.

Thank you, Lena, for this observation. Unfortunately we do not have an image of this aerial dance, so the above two have been provided by YC.


4 Responses

  1. Gloria Seow

    I believe the bulbuls were simply warming their shivery and wet bodies more quickly with this sort of start-stop flight pattern. As with a car engine that heats up more quickly with start-stop city traffic compared to expressway cruising, I believe the bird’s body heats up faster with a start-stop flight pattern compared to leisurely long distance flying. Besides, wouldn’t the continuous breeze of cruise flying produce overall more wind than start-stop flights?

  2. […] Chow wrote on 6th July 2009: “Some 3 years back, I observed Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) darting in and out of the trees of Aljunied Park after […]

  3. […] Chow initiated the controversy when she posted an account of Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) flying out from a tree canopy after the […]

  4. […] darting out of a tree canopy after a heavy downpour, termed “rain dance” by Lena Chow was first discussed in August 2006. At that time there were no images to illustrate the account. Lena finally managed […]


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.