©Foraging Behavior of Borneo’s Endemic Brown Barbets

on 2nd January 2012

“Five days prior to photographing the record shot of a juvenile Malaysian Honeyguide (Indicator archipelagicus) in Sarawak Borneo LINK, I chanced upon an opportunity and uncommon shot of a female Brown Barbet (Calorhamphus f. fuliginosus) in late rainy September, offering a small, four-legged looking gecko to its young. Perhaps a new food record…? (below left).

“This observation was followed up amidst being swamped by thousands of mosquitoes in the grounds of the Park quarters to a shallow hollow of a tree. What thought to be a nesting cavity at a distance, my photographs showed tree trunk of a decayed hollow, stripped off its bark with wood exposed and deeply embellished. The hollow resembled a deep, lacerated and necrotic opened wound of a limb. It appeared to be well prospected looking at the severity of numerous dimpled cavities pecking have made.

“Foraging behaviors of Brown Barbets are quite different from other frugivorous barbets for this species are also insectivores known for hunting insects amongst tree trunks.

“A male was seen probing into the hollow and then brought out material or cache and deposited its contents on his left side (above right). This was repeated twice before he reached out and broke a piece of remnant bark with his beak (above).

“This observation was followed by a lot of whistle-like calling by the male. The parental female soon appeared to pick up the deposits under the watchful eye of the male. Both then flew to their awaiting chick (below left).

“Fledglings of Barbet species observed tend to be robust in size and independently flighty. I would put this chick observed fleeting its wings for feeds to be less than a week old (above right).

“Breeding Brown are known to bore nesting holes in active ant or termite nests.
Hypothetically in Borneo, they are also highly suspects as brood hosts to parasitic chicks of honeyguides.”

AvianWriter Daisy O’Neill
Penang, Malaysia
Optics used: Fieldscope ED82+30x+Digital camera P3. B-8×42
Copyright images: Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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