Little Greenbuls fly catching insects in the rain

Having been in Campo Ma’an National Park in southern Cameroon already the 2nd day, we experienced a heavy thunderstorm with endless rain. Probably not the first front of the rainy season brought heavy rain and thunder – and myriads of flying insects.

Just outside our basic camp, birds made sallies into the air, to catch insects that started flying in the rain. It is amazing what the combination of the Canon 400mm f4.0 DO IS USM and the EOS 1DX can perform in the rainy weather. Then the question quickly arose: “What bird do the photos show?” immediately I supposed a Greenbul or Bulbul. A Common or Garden Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus) show the great flight recordings certainly not. I recalled in my notes, that besides swallows and swifts, Chestnut-capped Flycatcher (Erythrocercus mccallii) and some Sunbirds had also participated in the flycatching orgy during the rain on the clearing that day.

After consultation with an ornithologist specialized in African birds, we came to the conclusion that by size, shape, and discernible coloring it was very likely a Little Greenbul (Andropadus virens).

On the day we had a group of Spotted Greenbul (Ixonotus guttatus) at the camp. But a Spotted Greenbul would show a brighter bottom.

As with many Greenbuls (or Bulbuls), it is written, that the diet consists of fruit, including berries, also many arthropods. It is said, that the bird may be largely frugivorous only seasonally. Greenbuls and Bulbuls have a broad diet and feed on fruits, seeds, petals, and nectar, as well as various invertebrates such as insects and spiders. Normally they do not feed like flycatchers, but obviously do so opportunistically at such times of heavy dispersion flights.

In a detailed scientific study study about the Food and Feeding Ecology of Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus) in the nearby country of Nigeria concerning the animal/plant Species Consumed by Common Bulbul they found out that plants provided the highest source of food source (66.7%) and insects account for 33.7%. Bulbuls consumed insects in many orders of insects. The most preferable beetle was the Pollinating Weevil (Elaeidobius kamerunicus) followed by Rove Beetle Bark beetle. Besides that, birds also  fed  on  Leafhoppers  (Order  Homoptera:  Cicadellidae),  Mosquitoes (Order  Diptera:  Culidae),  Bugs  (Order Hemiptera) and Ants  (Order  Hymenoptera: Formicidae).

Light rain  showers  are  no  obstacle for  feeding  to  these birds  but  feeding activities were restricted during heavy rainfalls.

Greenbuls and Bulbuls are found in different habitats such as woodlands, thickets, forest edges, wetlands, mountain scrub, and urban landscapes such as gardens and parks. They are often social birds and very common in some areas, particularly in gardens and parks.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western Palearctic or elsewhere.  Beside the image above you can find a nice selection of birds in the gallery or in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give a message, if Bird-Lens could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.

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