Yellow-vented Bulbul making distraction call

on 25th July 2017

Whenever I am in my garden and hear this somewhat gurgling call, I know that the Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) are nesting in a tree nearby (video above).

YVB-distract call

The bulbul would initially be somewhere among the branches of the wayside tree, well hidden among the leaves. Its presence would eventually be revealed when it thinks it had made eye contact with me and moved to another spot (above).

YVB-distract call

Should I continue to remain in the garden, it would show its presence by moving to the verandah of the house nearby and continue with its call. Only when I move away from the garden would it fly off and discontinue with the call.

To me it is a distraction call, to lure me away from the nest. As with most nesting birds, the bulbul would not fly directly to the nest to feed the chicks. Only when the path is clear would it do so.

This call can also be a warning call to the chicks in the nest to lie low. Or can it also be a distress call?

YC Wee
19th July 2017

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

4 Responses

  1. Morning YC,
    A YVB chick just fledged few days ago and as usual , parents used and reused recycled nest hanging from macrame at balcony.
    A mango tree below with branches arching over driveway has always been used as perch, refuge , pitstop
    feeding .
    During breeding times when eggs/hatchings Insitu, these gurgling sounds similarly heard whenever I took to plant watering.
    To me, bird language that says, ” Oi…you are getting too near. Stay away!”
    It is distressful and scolding and parent will stay around until threat is gone.
    I have learnt to respect their presence and avoid the balcony altogether as necessary.
    Your place got to be peaceful for birds to choose to nest in.


  2. Not so Daisy. The YVB chicks were about a few days old when the calls were heard by me. It went on for about a week or so. Then suddenly it stopped. The nest was empty – something happened to the chicks. They either fledged or were taken by predators.

    My place is not peaceful anymore. Cars and trucks run along the road fronting the house. There is a house being renovated nearby. Workers and the noise they generate with the daily deliveries provide plentiful distraction… But there are trees around and bulbuls will nest in them, in spite of everything.

  3. I have also had the pleasure of the Yellow Vented Bulbul conducting a disabled bird dance to lure me from its nest. Unfortunately i only managed to get part of the end dance. I was very surprised at this display as i know of only ground nesting birds doing this display. This was in Penang in my condo garden.

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