Hook-billed bulbul

Hook-billed bulbul
Setornis criniger
Photo by Azahari Reyes (Bird Forum)
Common name:
hook-billed bulbul (en); tuta-de-bico-comprido (pt); bulbul à long bec (fr); bulbul picudo (es); langschnabelbülbül (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Pycnonotidae

This Asian species is confined to Borneo, including Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia, Brunei, and Kalimantan, and the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Bangka.

These birds are 19-20 cm long .

Hook-billed bulbuls are strongly associated with nutrient-poor vegetation on acid soils. These include peat swamps with lowland evergreen forests characterised by low tree species diversity and strong adaptation to a fluctuating water-table, and heath forests, namely Kerangas dense, low forests of thin-boled, small-leaved and often sclerophyllous trees. It has also been recorded in abandoned rubber plantations, ridge-top heath forest and sometimes tolerates secondary forest, but generally avoids dryland primary forest. It is found from sea level up to an altitude of 1.000 m.


They eat small fruits, berries, small beetles, dragonflies and their nymphs, ants and spiders. They also steal spider prey caught on webs.

These birds are monogamous, building a cup-shaped nest high on a tree. The female lays 1-5 purple-pink eggs which she incubates alone for 11-14 days. The chicks fledge 12-16 days after hatching.

IUCN status – VU (Vulnerable)
This species has a large breeding range but the current population is believed to be just 10.000-20.000 individuals. Although recent data on population size and trend are lacking, large-scale habitat conversion continues at a catastrophic rate across the region, particularly within the specialised habitats occupied by this species, suggesting a rapid and continuing decline. The peatswamp forests on Borneo and Sumatra are under extreme pressure through logging and agricultural, industrial and residential development, particularly oil palm plantation. In addition, recent forest-fires have destroyed vast swathes of primary peat swamp vegetation. Even in protected areas, such as Tanjung Puting National Park, industrial-scale illegal logging is proceeding at such a pace that most peat swamp forest is likely to disappear within the next decade.

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