The black bulbul is 24-25 cm in length, with a long tail. The body plumage ranges from slate grey to shimmering black, depending on the race. The beak, legs, and feet are all red and the head has a black fluffy crest. Sexes are similar in plumage, but young birds lack the crest, have whitish underparts with a grey breast band, and have a brown tint to the upperparts. They have a black streak behind the eye and on the ear coverts.
Male with larger white pattern on top of the head and brown red spots under the wings. It is found in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, as well as some adjoining areas. The species ranges across Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam. Its natural habitat is temperate forests.