bulbul (bŏlˈbŏl) [key], bird, common name for members of the family Pycnonotidae, comprising 119 species of medium-sized, dull-colored passerine birds with short necks and wings, native to Africa and S Asia. Bulbuls are famed as songsters and are popular as cage birds in the Middle East; frequently mentioned in Persian poetry, the word bulbul is often mistranslated "nightingale." Bulbuls range in size from 6 in. (15 cm) to about 12 in. (30.5 cm). They inhabit grasslands and shrubby countrysides, from sea level to 10,000 ft (3,050 m) in the Himalayas. A common Asian species, the red-whiskered bulbul, Pycnonotus jocosus, is easily tamed and is popular as a cage bird. Bulbuls feed mainly on fruits and berries and sometimes do crop damage. They build cleverly concealed cup-shaped grass nests, in which the female lays from three to five eggs per clutch. Both parents brood the nestlings. Bulbuls are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Pycnonotidae.
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