Pycnonotus zeylanicus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Pycnonotus zeylanicus
Species Authority: (Gmelin, 1789)
Common Name(s):
English Straw-headed Bulbul, Straw-crowned Bulbul

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd+3cd+4cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Brickle, N. & van Balen, B.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Taylor, J.
This species is declining rapidly across its range as a result of high levels of trapping for the cage-bird trade, compounded by habitat loss within its rather specific habitat type. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Pycnonotus zeylanicus is known from Tenasserim, Myanmar (status unknown), south through Peninsular Thailand and Malaysia and Singapore to Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan, Indonesia, Brunei and Sabah and Sarawak (Malaysia) (BirdLife International 2001). It was widespread, common, and even locally abundant across much of this range, until as recently as two decades ago. However, it is thought to be extinct in Thailand (where only feral populations remain) and Java, and is virtually extinct on Sumatra (N. Brickle in litt. 2007). In Kalimantan, it is largely confined to areas furthest from human habitation. It may only remain in moderately healthy numbers in peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and remote Kalimantan.

Brunei Darussalam; Indonesia; Malaysia; Myanmar; Singapore
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals. This equates to 15,000-29,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 15,000-30,000 individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It occupies successional habitats bordering rivers, streams, marshes and other wet areas, where seasonal flooding prevents the establishment of climax communities. These include secondary and disturbed primary evergreen forest, plantations, gardens and cultivation fringe, scrub and, locally, reedbeds and mangroves. It is most frequent in lowlands, but has been recorded (historically) up to 1,100 m and, locally (on Borneo and Sumatra), up to 1,600 m. It is sedentary, generally occurring in pairs or family parties of up to five.

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The quality of its songs makes it a very popular cage-bird, which has resulted in extensive trapping for both domestic and international trade. Its lack of shyness and habit of roosting and nesting in easily accessible locations has compounded its vulnerability to trapping. A single bird cost over US$20 in 1987, after which prices have increased exponentially, and individuals have recently been seen on sale in Medan (Sumatra) for US$1,300. Despite its tolerance of secondary habitats, clearance of lowland forest along rivers has probably contributed to its decline.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It is protected in Thailand and occurs in numerous protected areas, including at least two on Sumatra (although possibly extirpated [B. van Balen in litt. 2007]), at least four in Kalimantan and several (including Taman Negara) in Peninsular Malaysia.  Some captive breeding programmes exist - at Kuala Lumpur Bird Park for example.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to assess the species's current range and population size. Monitor levels of capture for trade. Monitor levels of trade in this species. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation across its range. Advocate increased patrol frequency in and around protected areas supporting populations. Increase policing of bird markets, particularly in Indonesia. Tighten controls on imports and exports of live birds in the region. Extend stronger legal protection to this (and other equally popular) cage-birds.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Pycnonotus zeylanicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 30 August 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided