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Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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Despite its relatively large range, populations of this bulbul are small and severely fragmented. Destruction and degradation of its habitat continue to cause population declines. It therefore qualifies it as Vulnerable.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

20 cm. Rather plain, olive-and-greyish bulbul. Yellow throat, undertail-coverts and tail-tip. Plain head, greyish breast and belly. Similar spp. White-browed Bulbul P. luteolus has pale supercilium and lacks yellow throat and tip of tail. Voice Explosive conversational babble pit pit pit, woopit woopit, pit pit ut utoo pit pit ut utoo and nasal, mellow rhid-tu-tu.

Distribution and population
Pycnonotus xantholaemus is endemic to southern India, where it is locally distributed in southern Andhra Pradesh, eastern Karnataka, eastern Kerala and northern Tamil Nadu (Subramanya 2004). It could also occur in Orissa, where there is suitable unsurveyed habitat (Subramanya et al. 2006). It is known from c.80 localities, with all recent records from hills south of 16°N and east of 76°E (Narayanan et al. 2006). The southern limit of its known range was recently extended southwards by c.30 km, when birds were recorded on the eastern slopes of Devarmala (Sandeep Das) (per P. Jayadevan in litt. 2012). It is still locally common, but appears to be declining. Recent surveys of 75 localities found that it had totally disappeared from six historical sites, and at most occupied sites it is considered scarce (Thejaswi 2004). Many areas of suitable habitat within the species's range remain unsurveyed.

Population justification
Although this species has a large EOO (210,000 km2), it is very patchily distributed. Surveys of 18 sites showed it to be common in intact suitable habitat, but this was 'very limited'. Analysis of the detailed account in BirdLife International (2001) suggests that the total population may well be below 10,000 individuals, so it is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 individuals here. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Recent surveys of 18 sites found that the species had disappeared from six historical locations. Habitat loss is occurring throughout its fragmented range, suggesting that rapid population declines are likely to be on-going. It is thought to have been significantly more abundant in the past, particularly in the Western Ghats (Subramanya et al. 2006).

It is a largely sedentary resident, generally associated with boulder-strewn hillsides or rocky outcrops with dense undergrowth, usually under either thorn-scrub, scrub jungle, mixed dry or moist deciduous forest at 300-1,800 m. It is quite tolerant of denuded habitat, although not found on completely bare hills. Some local or altitudinal movements may be made in response to the abundance of fruiting trees. It is encountered in pairs or small groups of six or more. Berry-bearing shrubs, particularly Securinega, Toddalia, Erythroxylon, Solanum, Santalum, Ziziphus, Ficus, Canthium, Phyllanthus and Lantana, are important food sources (S. Subramanya in litt. 2012). It also feeds on insects. Evidence suggests that the species breeds in the south-west monsoon, between June and August (Subramanya et al. 2006).

The key threats are habitat loss and degradation owing to commercial quarrying for granite, cutting and lopping of trees for fuelwood, clearance for cultivation and intensive browsing of berry-bearing shrubs by domestic livestock. Mining activities in Karnataka have increased rapidly in recent years (S. Subramanya in litt. 2007). Periodic fires are also thought to degrade its habitat. Road widening at Devarayanadurga has caused local losses of habitat in the State Forest (A. Ahmed in litt. 2002). Unregulated tourist traffic may cause detrimental disturbance at some sites (Subramanya et al. 2006). Quarrying and human disturbance are also cited as threats by Subramanya et al. (2006).

Conservation Actions Underway
Tracts of habitat that support the species at Adichunchanagiri, Anaimalai Hills, Biligiri Rangana Hills, Devarayanadurga, Gingee, Horsely Hills, Ragihalli State Forest, Shevaroys and Tirumala Hills are afforded nominal protection, although many are still under heavy human disturbance, and there are few protected areas in the Deccan Plateau and Eastern Ghats, where the majority of the population occurs (Subramanya et al. 2006). In some areas, natural vegetation is recovering owing to the changing lifestyles of villagers, who are slowly converting from the using firewood to cooking gas (S. Subramanya in litt. 2012).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys across its range to assess population sizes in existing protected areas and to identify substantial areas of undisturbed and unprotected habitat supporting populations, with a view to affording strict protected-area status to representative portions. Lobby against further large-scale granite quarrying operations in areas supporting significant populations. Promote conservation awareness initiatives in these areas, aimed at reducing habitat degradation, integrated if possible with rural development schemes (e.g. through the provision of fuel-efficient stoves, reducing local communities' dependence on fuelwood). Ensure protection of important habitats from encroachment, and promote the regeneration of native vegetation in areas previously affected by grazing. Areas in the Deccan Plateau and Eastern Ghats should be a priority, and connectivity should be maintained between reserves (Subramanya et al. 2006).

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Narayanan, S. P.; Boopal, A.; Nanjan, S.; Kurian, J.; Dhanya, R.; Gomahty, N.; Dastidar, D. G.; Rajamamannan, M. A.; Venkitachalam, R.; Mukherjee, D.; Eswaran, R. 2006. New site record of the Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus from the Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu (India). Indian Birds 2(6): 151-153.

Subramanya, S. 2004. Does the Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus occur in Orissa? Newsletter for Ornithologists: 39-40.

Subramanya, S.; Prasad, J. N.; Karthikeyan, S. 2006. Status, habitat and conservation of Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus (Jerdon) in south India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 103(2-3): 215-226.

Thejaswi, S. 2004. New sites for the globally threatened Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus (Jerdon) in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Southern India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 101: 458-461.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Khwaja, N., Taylor, J.

Ahmed, A., Ghorpade, K., Jayadevan, P., Riyazuddin, S., Subramanya, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pycnonotus xantholaemus. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

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To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Yellow-throated bulbul (Pycnonotus xantholaemus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)
Species name author (Jerdon, 1845)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 356,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species