Isla Sharp wrote: “I am travelling in Malaysia… At Ruth Kiew’s Bukit Awansari apartment outside Kuala Lumpur recently, we were startled by a nonstop vocalisation with considerable note and rhythm variation, by what was definitely a bulbul but it was twilight so we couldn’t see colours – we could see the crest. I think it was the usual yellow-vented but can’t be sure.
“There was a pair of them, with one vocalising more than the other (male?). It was 7pm, in the common condo courtyard garden and poolside area, and the birds were in tall non-native palms (not dates), tall and slim with smooth trunks and high crowns. We listened for about 4 minutess and then I decided to record the last 6 mins, sound (iphone) attached, so this was a nonstop 10 minutes vocalisation! Both of us found it quite extraordinary. Was it courtship or territorial defence? Over to BESG!”
Ilsa’s note was sent to Malaysian birder Dato’ Dr Amar Singh HSS who replied:
“1. You are correct, the calls are those of a Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier analis).
“2. They are not courtship or territorial defence but distress.
“3. I have heard this not infrequently (even occasionally in my own garden) and is usually made in response to a threat.
“The bulbuls are most likely nesting near-by and there is a danger to the young/nest.
“In the past I have heard it in response to a predator attacking the young. Usually the male makes it but occasionally both male and female (like in response to a female Koel).
6th October 2018
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
16th October 2018