Two bulbuls

One of our targets in Hampi was the yellow-throated bulbul (Pycnonotus xantholaemus). We had our sighting early one morning near a cliff face to the east of the ruins of the 16th century CE Krishna bazaar. The birds sat in the middle of heavy foliage, so that we could hear its melodious chatter long before we could see the crestless bulbul. There was one pair in the tree that we were looking at, and maybe a couple of pairs in the bushes near the top of the cliff.

This is possibly the westernmost population of this bird, which exists in fragmented habitats across the eastern part of the Deccan plateau. It has been suggested recently that range fragmentation makes it more susceptible to local extinctions than its IUCN label of vulnerable might lead us to believe. With the major climate variability that we are going through, I was happy that I have spotted them in a fairly accessible location.

The range of this species completely overlaps that of the more common white-browed bulbul (Pycnonotus luteolus). In the din that the yellow-throateds had set up, I was unable to distinguish the call of the white-browed. Fortunately, we were with a really experienced birder, who noticed the song, and pinpointed the bird. I could get off a bunch of shots in wonderful light. Although P. luteolus is said to be of least concern, I hadn’t seen one before. It has a touch of yellow near the base of its beak. Both this and the P. xantholaemus are said to have a yellow vent (I didn’t manage to see that), but otherwise they are easily distinguished. In particular, the P. lutelous has the characteristic bulbul’s crest, though a small one. It was a happy morning, with two lifers.