A Toppie by any other name

Dark-capped Bulbuls

The Toppie is a common bird that goes by a number of names including Black-eyed Bulbul. Unfortunately, with the internationalisation (is that a word?) of our birds it is now called the Dark-capped Bulbul. This bird is very common in the eastern half of South Africa with its range extending to Port Elizabeth. Residents of the south-western region of the country will be more familiar with the Cape Bulbul.

These bulbuls are common visitors to gardens where there are trees and bushes. They are not shy, and you will often hear their cheerful calls, normally given from an exposed perch in a shrub or tree. Sometimes they make an exciting twittering call which could be because they have discovered an owl, bird of prey or snake hidden amongst the foliage of a tree or shrub. This call tends to attract other birds who get just as excited. Although they may be seen in small flocks they are most commonly encountered in pairs. The sexes have similar plumage.

The Toppie is a fruit loving bird

This bird absolutely loves fruit and it easy to encourage them to a bird feeder where fruit is on offer. Make sure that the feeder is not too far from vegetation. Pawpaws and apples are a favourite, but they will eat most soft fruits. They also feed on insects, spiders, berries, and nectar. Some gardeners who grow fruit trees may find that these birds are a bit of a pest as they may damage the fruit.

Where do they nest?

Dark-capped Bulbuls don’t make the grandest of nests. In fact, it is decidedly flimsy. It is not hidden amongst the vegetation but rather placed amongst exposed branches, not too high off the ground. The normal clutch size is either two or three eggs. The female tends to the eggs and chicks while the male brings her food. Both parents feed the chicks.

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