Asian Barbet Birds

Barbets are found in the tropics around the world. Barbets as in the Old Word are here treated as two separate families, they are the African Barbets [Lybiidae] and Asian Barbets [Megalaimidae]. The Asian barbets are chunky, mostly small to mid-sized, often colorful and vocal birds, especially the oriental species like ours.  In total, there are 75 species of tropical Barbets, constituting the family Capitonidae (order Piciformes). From the world wide total, in the South East Asia there are only 16 species of Barbets [Megalaimidae] as we know them .

In Malaysia these are the Barbet that we have.

One notable diagnostic marking of Barbets and perhaps how the name came about - the bristles at the bases of their stout, sharp bills. Most birds have fairly large heads, short-tailed and short legs birds. Most Barbets are of fair size and some are rather large, measuring 930 cm (3.512 inches) long. The smallest being the Coppersmith Barbet is double the  size of a common Babbler. They are always green in color with the exception on one, the Brown Barbet. The prominent features of Barbet is that the green body is complimented with a multi-colored head, cheek and throat. Both sexes look identical. Barbets are termed as Near passerine, as they do perch like one [sparrow used a benchmark] but most time maintaining an upright posture. Next attribute, their calls also reminding us of Tinker bird, whose calls are continuously and repetitive. The Barbets' calls - loud, consisting of a few syllables and repeated over and over again for long period of time. It's not surprising that when you enter the forest and hearing a few species calling simultaneously.

Most of the 70 or so species of Barbets excavate their own nesting cavities. Here again, watch - these tree stumps chosen as nesting sites are usually well-rotted wood. Yes, barbet has very thick bills, that early European associate this bird with the Woodpeckers. They display action like that of Woodpeckers, from a distance, such action easily mar our efforts to ID them, and first impression that it could be a Woody. Among the birds seen in Malaysia, the Gold-whiskered Barbets and Coppersmith were the most often seen behaving like Woodpeckers.

Barbets are mainly frugivorous [fruit-eater]. Very so often in the fields, in places where Barbets are likely to be spotted, we would be on a look-out for tree bearing Berry-like "Barbets fruits". We have associated them with fruits. But, typical of birds, they do consume some insects. I have seen that practice, gleaning insects from branches and twigs.  Most commonly seen would be the Blue-eared Barbet. Most kind of insects, Barbet would consume these opportunistically over and above the fruits they normally eat.

The Barbet, as a species, is one type of bird that brings me a lot of joy. Their calls are loud, their presence is obvious and brings so much hope that it's presence signify - rich bird life in the area. It is nice hearing one, it would even be better if we have caught a glimpse of one. In this table, with the list of names mentioned, they are near a comprehensive list on Barbets seen in Malaysia  I have listed those Barbets that I do have enough pictures of.



01 Black-browed Barbet



02  Blue-eared Barbet

  03 Bornean Barbet  
  04  Brown Barbet  
  05 Coppersmith Barbet  
  06 Fire-tufted Barbet  
  07 Gold-whiskered Barbet  
  08 Blue-throated Barbet  
  09 Golden-throated Barbet  
   10 Lineated Barbet  
  11 Mountain Barbet  
  12. Red-crowned Barbet  
  13. Red-throated Barbet  
  14. Sooty Barbet  
  15. Yellow-crowned Barbet



That's the pictures. The Barbets that I caught on "films". Very happy and urges me on to get more with each new season.

Yes, the calls of the Barbets of the Barbet at the time when the forest is so quiet is most reassuring and welcoming. Cannot deny that fact. But sighting one despite of the incessant loud call and so close in impossible and a common drawback. The birds are perched on firm branches with no movements of leaves. The green color plumage reduces the chance of picking up a speck of odd colors in a sea of green. Hence even with the largest Gold -whiskered Barbet, I had great difficulties to make out their position. In any circumstances, there are exception. The Coppersmith Barbet on the contrary, is one bird that is most easy to locate.

Good way of spotting Barbets is learning and getting information on fruiting trees. Barbets have very fixed habits and pattern. When it comes to feeding, the birds would not mind descending to small trees. Without fear of human presence, they continued their feeding. That's not all, the birds would comes in a flock of few birds and many a times a few species of Barbet were present showing their common preferences for the fruits.

At last after a 3 years space in between I have updated this page but there is till so much to be done. This is one of the many KIV pages I have got, it will be updated from time or rather taken to a higher level of completion.

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