Thirteen red-whiskered bulbuls were counted at three sites Monday during the Pasadena Audubon Society's annual Christmas bird count. Bird watchers said the number found--nine fewer than last year--indicates that the bird, which is on the state's list of pests to be eradicated, is not propagating in numbers likely to threaten agriculture.
Controversy over the bulbul mounted this year when the state Department of Food and Agriculture was forced to stop shooting the bird in its major Southland habitat, the Botanical Gardens of the Huntington Library in San Marino, when Director Robert Middlekauff objected to the extermination.
This year, eight red-whiskered bulbuls were counted in the Huntington's gardens, four in the Arboretum a few miles away and one in the Chapman Woods area of Pasadena, which is midway between the two sites. Last year, 15 were counted in the Huntington gardens and seven in the Arboretum. State officials said any significant increase in the bird's numbers could have resulted in renewed efforts to eradicate it.