Red-crowned Barbet swallowing Canthium glabrum fruits

on 8th August 2016

BarbetRCr-Canthium glabrum [JWee]

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.

BarbetRCr-Canthium glabrum [JWee]

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).

BarbetRCr-Canthium glabrum [JWee]

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.

Johnny Wee
6th August 2016

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.

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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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One Response

  1. 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.

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