Male Red-throated Barbet with insect prey

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS photographed a male Red-throated Barbet (Megalaima mystacophanos mystacophanos) with a metallic-looking beetle in his bill. He was then walking along a secondary forest trail at the periphery of the Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia on 30th June 2011.

It was during a fruiting frenzy then, with species of bulbuls, Asian Fairy-Bluebirds (Irena puella) and others when he noticed this Red-throated Barbet simply ignoring the fruits and focusing his attention on the beetle that he caught. The beetle was extensively ‘processed’ by branch swiping it many times before he swallowed it.

Although barbets are largely fruit eaters, they are sufficiently opportunistic to exploit animal food when available. This is especially so when feeding chicks immediately after hatching. In the case of the Red-throated Barbet, it has been recorded that, besides feeding predominantly on figs, it also takes insect larvae and snails (Short & Horne, 2002).

Short, L. L. & J. F. M. Horne, 2002. Family Capitonidae (Barbets). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 7. Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 140-219.

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