Brachypodidae Swainson, 1831
Trichophoridae Swainson, 1831
Ixosidae Bonaparte, 1838
Hypsipetidae Bonaparte, 1854
Crinigeridae Bonaparte, 1854 (1831)
Phyllastrephidae Milne-Edwards & Grandidier, 1879
Tyladidae Oberholser, 1917
Spizixidae Oberholser, 1919
Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae) are a family of medium-sized passerine songbirds. Many forest species are known as greenbuls. The family is distributed across most of Africa and into the Middle East, tropical Asia to Indonesia, and north as far as Japan. A few insular species occur on the tropical islands of the Indian Ocean There are about 130 species in around 24 genera. While some species are found in most habitats, overall African species are predominately found in rainforest whilst rainforest species are rare in Asia, instead preferring more open areas. The only Bulbul which occurs in Europe was spotted in the Cyclades and bears a yellow patch, being otherwise of a snuffy brown and this is possibly the bird which has got mixed up with the nightingale in Sufi, particularly Persian Sufi, poetry.
Bulbuls are short-necked slender passerines. The tails are long and the wings short and rounded. In almost all species the bill is slightly elongated and slightly hooked at the end. They vary in length from 13 cm for the Tiny Greenbul to 29 cm in the Straw-headed Bulbul. Overall the sexes are alike, although the females tend to be slightly smaller. In a few species the differences are so great that they have been described as functionally different species. The soft plumage of some species is colourful with yellow, red or orange vents, cheeks, throat or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive brown to black plumage. Species with dull coloured eyes often sport contrasting eyerings. Some have very distinct crests. Bulbuls are highly vocal, with the calls of most species being described as nasal or gravelly. One author described the song of the Brown-eared Bulbul as "the most unattractive noises made by any bird".
Bulbuls eat a wide range of different foods, ranging from fruit to seeds, nectar, small insects and other arthropods and even small vertebrates. The majority of species are frugivorous and supplement their diet with some insects, whilst there is a significant minority of specialists, particularly in Africa. Open country species in particular are generalists. Bulbuls in the genus Criniger and bristlebills in the genus Bleda will join mixed-species feeding flocks.
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