Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Family: Capitonidae

Barbets' Feast

Moustached Broadbill (megalaima incognita) @ Khaoyai National Park, Thailand

BESIDES broadbills, hornbills, owls, pittas, sunbirds and kingfishers, the barbets are another favourite bird of mine. 

They are not always easy to spot, being largely greenish, which blend them with the foliage. What fascinates me is their colourful heads of red, blue, yellow and black. The Taiwanese call them 五 色 鸟 or five-coloured bird. Only the Lineated Barbet is less colourful with just green, streaks of brown, yellow and white.

Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala)
@ Bukit Brown, Singapore
There are Asian, African, American and even Toucan-barbets. These birds frequently stay high up in the canopy of trees and one is lucky if this bird is seen perching at a low position.

This blog will focus mainly on the Asian barbet, the Megalaimidae. There are about 26 types, which can be found from Tibet to Southeast Asia. Most of them concentrate around the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia region.

They are usually plumpish, have large heads and thick bills with bristles growing above the top bill. The ones I have come across are rather territorial in nature and often respond to bird calls; they quickly come to check who had dared to intrude into their territory.

The barbets do not sing melodiously but make staccato calls, which make them easy to notice should they be around. They are not only found in forested areas but also in city parks. The attractive Coppersmith Barbet is an example.

Lineated Barbet (Magalaima lineata) @ Bukit Batok Nature Park, Singapore

Like the woodpeckers, they bore into tree trunks to make their nests; they lay between two and four eggs each time.

Their diet consists mainly of fruits and insects. But some have been known to eat small vertebrae such as frogs and lizards.

Black browed Barbet (Megalaima oorti)
@ Wulai, Taiwan

Barbets tend to be solitary birds, according to the bird experts. I have seen small groups of them feasting on the fruits of trees and they seem to coexist well. I noted that in both Taiwan and Singapore.

Fire-tufted Barbet (Psilopogon pyrolopbus) @ Fraser's Hill, Malaysia

I shall be adding new photos as I spot these barbets, so this is a blog in progress.


Alfred Quah said...

Nice and interesting bird subject to learned about and to be aware and sharing of their existence.

ALL-Wild said...

Barbets are the special birds with colorful and beautiful mask.