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 – and you could claim a $1,000 reward.


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's being done

MPI is working with the Department of Conservation to check there aren't any other red-vented bulbuls in the Tauranga area. There has been un unconfirmed report of a sighting of one of these birds in Katikati.

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. If you report a red-vented bulbul sighting that leads to the successful capture and removal of a red-vented bulbul by MPI, we will pay a $1,000 reward.

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.

Reward terms and conditions

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will pay a $1000 reward for a red-vented bulbul sighting when:

1. a sighting is reported to the MPI Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline – 0800 80 99 66 – which directly leads to the successful capture and removal of a red-vented bulbul from the wild by a red-vented bulbul response team member, and
2. the sighting is reported to the MPI Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on or between 28 June 2016 and 30 June 2017, and
3. the eligible recipient is the first person who provides information leading to capture at any particular location.

People ringing the 0800 80 99 66 number will have their details taken and a representative from the red-vented bulbul response team will then get back to them to take further information.

The capture and removal of a red-vented bulbul is only to be undertaken by a member of the red-vented bulbul response team. Attempting to capture or harm the bird will invalidate payment of the reward.

There are five $1,000 rewards available that will be paid out for information leading to the first 5 successful captures/removals. Where a single red-vented bulbul is sighted at more than one location, and more than one of those sightings has contributed to the bulbul's eventual capture or removal, MPI will consider making multiple reward payments.

MPI reserves the discretion to determine whether the above reward conditions have been met.


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