Red-vented bulbul

A red-vented bulbul was found and killed near Tauranga in May 2016. It's possible there are more in the Bay of Plenty area. MPI needs you to report sightings so we can remove them from the wild and prevent damage to local crops and birdlife.


Red vented bulbul bird sitting on branch
Red-vented bulbuls can harm
native bird species and crops.

Native to parts of Asia (Pakistan to southwest China), the red-vented bulbul was introduced to some Pacific Islands, where it's now a serious invasive pest.

It's not the first time the bird has been discovered in New Zealand. Groups of red-vented bulbuls have been eradicated from the Auckland region several times – in 2013, 2006 and in the 1950s. Evidence suggests they arrive on sea vessels – which may be how this bird reached Tauranga.

Red-vented bulbuls are an unwanted organism. If you see any in the wild, call MPI on 0800 80 99 66.

Risk to New Zealand

The red-vented bulbul can: 

  • cause significant damage to fruit and vegetable crops
  • threaten native bird species. It's aggressive, and chases off other birds and competes with them for food and space
  • spread seeds of invasive pest species.

This bird is a prolific breeder, and populations can build quickly.  

What you can do

Keep a look out for these birds and report any sightings to MPI's pest and diseases hotline on 0800 80 99 66. 

Spotting red-vented bulbuls

Red-vented bulbuls are about the same size as starlings (20cm in length). They're dark brown/black in colour with a light-coloured belly and a distinctive crimson-red patch beneath the tail. The head is black, with a small peaked crest. Young birds look similar, but have some brownish edging on the feathers.

Our factsheet will help you identify the bird. You can also listen for its very distinctive call.

Download MPI's red-vented bulbul factsheet [PDF, 328 KB] 

When making a report, tell us:

  • how many red-vented bulbuls you've seen
  • where you saw them
  • the time of the sighting
  • which direction they were flying (if airborne)
  • what they were doing.
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