The Red-vented Bulbul is easily identified by its short crest giving the head a squarish appearance.
The body is dark brown with a scaly pattern while the head is darker or black. The rump is white while the vent is red. The black tail is tipped in white.
Sexes are similar in plumage, but young birds are duller than adults.
The typical call has been transcribed as ginger beer but a number of sharp single note calls likened as pick are also produced.
Their alarm calls are usually responded to and heeded by many other species of bird.