Crested Barbet

23rd June 2010

Distribution: This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 2,900,000 km. It is common all over Southern Africa: Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique; Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland

Status: The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as 'common' in at least parts of its range. Though global population trends have not been quantified either, the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the Crested Barbet is evaluated as Least Concern.

Habitat: The Crested Barbet it is common in a wide range of woodland habitats. It prefers moist or dry open woodland, with trees such as Brachystegia (miombo) and Colospermum mopane (Mopane), but is also found in savanna, suburban gardens, woodland thickets, watercourses and grassland with patches of alien trees. 

General habits: Crested Barbets are usually found singly or in pairs. They do not fly easily and then only for short distancesand are genrerally seen hopping around on the ground looking for food.. Crested Barbets are aggressive towards other birds in their territory and chase off both nest competitors such as other Barbets, and other birds such as doves and thrushes.

Feeding habits: The Crested Barbet is omnivorous, eating largely insects - such as termites, beetles, grasshoppers, moths- when fruit is scarce. Its favourite fruits seem to be: karees, guarris, wild figs and jackal berries. It forages for insects mostly on the ground, sometimes flying into foliage to eat fruit. This bird is also known to feed from the aloe and weeping boer-bean nectar, and is famous from eating snails in gardens, where it is usually welcome for that reason. Occasionally, it will also take in eggs or even chicks of other birds.

Breeding habits: The Crested Barbet is monogamous and territorial during breeding. Egg-laying season is year-long, peaking in September-December.

Nest: Crested Barbets roost in a hole in a tree or a Sisal log in a garden. Both partners excavate the nest, which consists of a chamber dug into the underside of a dead branch. The nest is then defended vigorously against other hole-nesting birds, sometimes evicting enemy birds out of their active nests!

Eggs: Eggs are laid between September to December. 1 to 5 eggs - but usually 3 or 4 - are laid at daily intervals. Incubation lasts between 13 to 17 days, beginning with the second or third egg. The female incubates during the night, with the male taking over during most of the day.

Young: The chicks hatch naked and blind. They are fed exclusively insects by both parents, and stay in the nest for about 31 days. The nest entrance hole is enlarged as they get older.

Call: The Crested Barbet is  very vocal, the call being a trill that can continue for long periods. It has a distinct shrill.  Description:. The Crested Barbet is a small bird that blends well in the bush. The belly is yellow with red speckles, wings are black with white specks and it has a broad black band on its neck. The face is peckled yellow and red and it has a a small black crest.

Did you know: The Crested Barbet is a welcome garden bird, as it almost eliminates the local snail population.

The Crested Barbet is also called: Crested Barbet Levaillant's [English]; Kuifkophoutkapper Kopaope [Afrikaans]; iMvunduna [Zulu]; Mbangura (also generic term for woodpecker) [Kwangali]; Malioache [South Sotho]; Chizuvaguru [Shona]; Ludvonca [Swazi]; Ngoko [Tsonga]; Kôpaôpê [Tswana]; Toppet Perleskagfugl [Danish]; Kirjoseppä [Finnish]; Barbican promépic [French]; Kuifbaardvogel, Druppelvlek baardvogel [Dutch]; Schwarzrücken-Bartvogel, Haubenbartvogel [German]; Vousák Levaillant [Czech]; Barbudo Crestado de Levaillant [Spanish]; Barbaças-de-poupa [Portuguese]