Barbets eat mainly fruits. They also take insects when the opportunity presents itself, like in a termite hatch. Animal foods are fed to the young immediately after the egg is hatched.
Of the fruits, figs are a major food source. A list of fruits eaten by barbets can be found HERE. Canthium glabrum, commonly known as Garden Coffee or Kopi Utan is a new addition to the list. There is no mention of this food plant in either Short & Home (2002) or Wells (1999).
The images illustrating this post, photographed at the Upper Seletar Reservoir forest, show the Red-crowned Barbet (Megalaima rafflesii) swallowing the crushed fruits together with the seeds. The seeds are probably regurgitsted later, often just before the bird indulges in singing (Short & Home, 2002). In the case of small seeds, they are passed through the gut to be excreted at the other end.
6th August 2016
1. 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.
2. Wells, D.R., 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. I, Non-passerines. Academic Press, London. 648 pp.
Lee Chiu San
From my own experience with several Red-Crowned Barbets in aviculture, they will all take papayas and grapes very readily. Not all like bananas, and some will eat mealworms, while others will not. The same with softbill pellet food. Some will accept it, whereas there are others which, despite years in an aviary, will never eat pellets.
Among the Jungle Barbets, the Red-Crowned Barbet is somewhat tolerant of human activity, and is known to be a hold-out when forests are disturbed. Being found in proximity to people, specimens often end up in the bird trade. I am really glad that it is present in Singapore, and appears to be holding its own.