The Varied Diet of the Yellow-vented Bulbul Chicks.

The Varied Diet of the Yellow-vented Bulbul Chicks. By Seng Alvin.

The ubiquitous Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier has to be the most common bird in our urban greenery. Its bubbly call is a welcome sound in our parks and gardens. If you listen carefully, they have different calls and alarms for different situations.


With two hungry chicks to feed, the parent bulbuls were kept busy throughout the day

I was lucky to come across a nesting pair at Pasir Ris Park this June and decided to document the food that the parents brought back to feed the chicks, and it was very varied.

Insects formed the main source of proteins for the growing chicks. Wasps from a nearby nest, a green grasshopper and a spider showed the variety of the feed.

My monitoring started on the 17th. I spent one to two hours each day between 8.00 am and 10 am photographing the the feeding process. Both chicks successfully fledged on the 22nd after a week of feeding.


Happy and well fed chicks about to fledge on the 22nd June.

For the first three days, the parents brought back soft and small insects that can be easily digested. Spiders and caterpillars were also a good source of proteins for the growing chicks. In the later stage, berries and figs supplemented larger insects like grasshoppers.


Squashed figs and berries will form the main diet of these frugivorous species when they grow up. 

In first part of the day, the parents will usually feed the chicks with insects. As the day progressed, they would start bringing back figs and berries to the chicks, for desserts? As there was a wasp’s nest nearby, they took full advantage of this ready source of rich protein insects. I wonder how do they neutralise the venom if any inside these wasps?


Sharing a fat caterpillar.

From my observations, their diet is not just varied but well balanced for the chicks to grow up as fast as possible to begin another generation.



15 thoughts on “The Varied Diet of the Yellow-vented Bulbul Chicks.

  1. Mazlindah

    Hi. Today, a nest fell from a palm in my school. There is a chick and an egg. I believe it is thw young of a yellow vented bul bul. My colleagues and I fed the chick with earthworms. I hope we have fed it with the correct type of food. Please advise.


  2. Nathan

    Thanks Alan
    Awesome info as we had a nest fall in our garden this week and the rain is making hard for the parents.


  3. Michelle Ho

    Thank you so much for sharing these observations and photos, especially about the feeding! My cat just caught a fledgeling and my kids and I were wondering what to feed the poor thing. Thankfully it looks mostly unharmed save for a few missing feathers, and is currently napping while perched upright on some clean rags in a shoebox. We have no idea where the nest is though. 😦


      1. Michelle Ho

        Thanks for the tip. The problem is, we found it when our cat brought it into the house >_< We don't know where the nest is. On the upside, I think the parents are aware their chick is with us… but on the other hand, so are our cats. We're trying to find a safe way to let it stay closer to its parents outdoors.


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  5. Rodney Tan

    A yellow vested bulbul has built a nest on my garden plant along the common corridor outside my apartment. I discovered there are two eggs inside the nest. The location of the nest is at an adult’s eye level but not very visible. Not many walk along the common corridor except neighbors and the occasional service providers. I fear when the eggs hatch, noise from the chicks will attract curious attention from passers by. How do I keep the nest and chicks safe from unwanted attention ?


    1. Alan OwYong Post author

      Hi Rodney from your description i think the nest should be quite safe since the corridor is not a public walkway. It is not possible or advisable to move the nest in any case.


  6. Elsje van Omme

    Hi, I’ve successfully managed to raise a left behind yellow vented bulbul chick . We had a nest on the balcony with 2 eggs, both hatched on 22/3/2020. Parents fed both chicks but one a bit more than the other as after 10 days one of the birds was able to leave the nest and fly out. Parents went with the bird and did not come back for a whole day to check on the bird still in the nest. Next day still no parents so I started feeding it myself and have done so for the rest of the 5 weeks it was on our balcony. I fed it a mix of blueberries, papaya, soaked dry cat food and boiled egg. The chick was very scruffy and looked rather ugly but in time it developed into a very healthy bird. After 2/3 weeks it started to explore the surroundings, it would fly to the tree across our balcony and spend the day there (occasionally coming back to be fed) but it would always sleep on our balcony. After 4 weeks it started to feed itself with the food (papaya and blueberries) I left on a plate. After 5 weeks it flew off and has not been back. I hope that is normal behaviour and that the bird is doing well.


  7. Raksha

    I found a nest of bulbul bird fallen due to rain. I have raised them quiet well. Among 3 of them,1 is quiet unwell and does not possess much feathers too.It keeps on can I treat it?
    And i am feeding them boiled eggs and banana.. Am I feeding them right?


    1. Alan OwYong Post author

      Young chicks growing up need proteins even if the species is a frugivorous. So they will need some small insects and vertebrates to help in their development


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