Straw-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus zeylanicus


Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A., Fishpool, L.D.C., Boesman, P. and Kirwan, G.M. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
A2cd+4cd A2cd+4cd; C2a(i) A2cd+3cd+4cd; C2a(i); D1

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Critically Endangered A2cd+4cd
2018 Critically Endangered A2cd+3cd+4cd
2016 Endangered A2cd+3cd+4cd; C2a(ii)
2012 Vulnerable A2cd+3cd+4cd
2008 Vulnerable A2c,d; A3c,d; A4c,d
2004 Vulnerable
2000 Vulnerable
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Vulnerable
1988 Near Threatened
Species attributes

Migratory status not a migrant Forest dependency Low
Land mass type Land-mass type - continent
Land-mass type - shelf island
Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 2,290,000 medium
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 600-1700 poor suspected 2016
Population trend Decreasing poor inferred -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) 30-49 - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) 80-90 - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation 1-89 - - -
Generation length (yrs) 6.4 - - -

Population justification: A revised population estimate based on an appraisal of the areas where populations are currently persisting, principally large protected areas in Malaysia and the population in Singapore, places the number in the band 1,000-2,499 individuals, considered to represent 667-1,667 mature individuals, rounded to 600-1,700 mature individuals. The Singapore population has recently been estimated to comprise 200-500 mature individuals (Yong et al. 2018, Chiok et al. 2020).

Trend justification: Persecution for the pet trade and habitat destruction continue to threaten populations across the species's range, and these factors are suspected to be driving a rapid and on-going decline that exceeds 80% in the previous three generations (15 years) (Asian Songbird Trade Specialist Group in litt. 2018). Declines have been apparent in parts of the range for several decades (Nash 1993, Wells 2007), with extinction on Java considered to have occurred in the mid-20th Century (van Balen 1999) and in Thailand considered at best close to extinction from a similar time (Wells 2007) (and assumed extinct for some time [Fishpool et al. 2018]). Rates of decline appear to have hit very high levels in the mid-2000s, coinciding with dramatic price rises (Shepherd 2013, Chng et al. 2015, Eaton et al. 2015, Rentschlar et al. 2018), which have continued to the present day, with recent prices quoted at over $700 per bird (Chng et al. 2018). Considered increasingly rare in Kalimantan by the mid-1990s despite being 'so common' two decades previous (Holmes 1997), this decline now appears to have progressed to site level extinctions, e.g. at Bukit Batikap Protection Forest in 2014 (Fischer et al. 2016) and any that remain must be in the most remote areas (Brickle et al. 2010). Any location information appears eagerly sought by trappers and is undoubtedly acted upon (Fischer et al. 2016, A. Miller in litt. 2018, Rentschlar et al. 2018). Numerous inventories of potentially suitable sites undertaken within the species's range over the past decade have failed to find the species, including sites such as Gunung Mulu National Park with records up to 2010 (Burner et al. 2016). Very few are believed to remain in Sumatra, having been considered likely extinct by Eaton et al. (2015), but with recent reports of presence in previously unsurveyed locations (Y. Ding Li in litt. 2018). However, with demand remaining very high, it is predicted that extirpation from Indonesia is imminent. Comparing sites with pre- and post-2000 records, Chiok et al. (2019) identified 10 sites on Borneo, 6 in Peninsular Malaysia and 3 on Sumatra where the species has become extirpated. In Singapore the population is believed to be stable, or possibly increasing slightly (Yong et al. 2018); since this population comprises a large and increasing percentage (likely to be greater than 20%) of the global population, future rates of decline in this species are believed to be slower than previously.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Brunei N Extant Yes
Indonesia N Extant Yes
Malaysia N Extant Yes
Myanmar N Extant Yes
Singapore N Extant Yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land marginal resident
Artificial/Terrestrial Plantations marginal resident
Artificial/Terrestrial Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest suitable resident
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level marginal resident
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland suitable resident
Shrubland Subtropical/Tropical Moist suitable resident
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls) major resident
Altitude 0 - 1600 m Occasional altitudinal limits (max) 1800 m

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Scale Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Agriculture & aquaculture Livestock farming & ranching - Scale Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Past, Likely to Return Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Past Impact
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Rapid Declines Medium Impact: 7
Species mortality
Residential & commercial development Housing & urban areas Timing Scope Severity Impact
Past, Likely to Return Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Past Impact
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Pycnonotus zeylanicus. Downloaded from on 11/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 11/08/2022.