Delightful Relatives of Toucans and Woodpeckers
The scientific classification for this group of softbills has undergone quite a few changes. Once all the barbets were considered to be part of the same family in the same order with toucans and woodpeckers. Recently they have been separated as to the region they are found in and classified as:
- Megalaimidae – Asian barbets
- Lybiidae – African barbets
- Capitonidae – American barbets
- Semnornithidae – Toucan-barbets
- Ramphastidae – Toucans
Barbets are unusual softbills and sometimes available to softbill aviculturists. They are easy to feed and care for. As they have thin feathering, they do not take cold temperatures well and need supplemental heat outside or be taken in during the winter. As most species will pound and drill on wood structures, aluminum housing is recommended.
Barbets’ vocalizations vary widely depending on the species. Some species like the Blue Throat Barbets have loud, monotonous calls that can go on for long periods of time, while other species like the Bearded Barbets are quiet with only a few quiet growl and creaking calls. Loud species housed outside can be bothersome to human neighbors. Research your species of barbet carefully before housing outside if neighbors may be an issue.
Some barbet species such as the D’Arnaud’s breed in underground chambers. Aviaries housing these barbets require deep footings so that the birds do not accidently dig under and out of their enclosures. Nesting sites need to be protected from rain so as not to be submerged.
Other species excavate a hollow in a tree stump or trunk in the wild. These species can be given a long nestbox filled with soft wood or shavings to use. The nestbox will usually be used as a sleeping chamber nightly as well and breeding site.
Some barbet species (Bearded, Black Spot, Red and Yellow) are sexually dimorphic while others need to be sexed.
Barbets at the Davis Lund Aviaries
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Copyright 07/09 Kateri Davis