The black bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus ), also known as the Himalayan black bulbul or Asian black bulbul, is a member of the bulbul family of passerine birds. It is found primarily in the Himalayas, its range stretching from India eastward to Southeast Asia. It is the type species of the genus Hypsipetes, established by Nicholas Aylward Vigors in the early 1830s. There are a number of subspecies, mostly varying in the shade of the body plumage which ranges from grey to black, and some also occur in white-headed morphs, as also suggested by its specific epithet leucocephalus, literally "white head". The legs and bill are always rich orange-red.
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The black bulbul is 24–25 cm (9.4–9.8 in) in length, with a long tail. The body plumage ranges from slate grey to shimmering black, depending on the race. The beak, legs, and feet are all orange and the head has a black fluffy crest. Sexes are similar in plumage, but young birds lack the crest, have whitish underparts with a grey breast band, and have a brown tint to the upperparts. They have a black streak behind the eye and on the ear coverts. Although males and females are indistinguishable to the human eye, there are significant differences in the ultraviolet reflectivity of the plumage making them readily distinguishable to the bulbuls themselves.
This bulbul is found in broad-leaved forests, cultivation and gardens mainly in hilly areas, but Himalayan populations are known to sometimes descend into the adjoining plains in winter.
Black bulbuls feed mainly on seeds and insects, and they are often seen in small groups, either roosting or flying about in search of food. They are particularly fond of berries. They are known to feed on a wide range of berries including Celtis, Rosa, Melia and Ehretia in the Himalayas. They feed on the nectar of Salmalia, Erythrina, Rhododendron and other species. They make aerial sallies for insects.
It builds its nest in a tree or bush; the nest is a cup placed in a fork and made from grasses, dry leaves, mosses, lichens and cobwebs. The lining is made up of ferns, rootlets and other soft material. Both sexes participate in nest construction. Two or three eggs form the usual clutch.