Bird O'clock

10 Fascinating Facts About the Black-girdled Barbet

Birdwatching is a fascinating hobby that requires a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of avian species. One of the most interesting birds found in the world is the Black-girdled Barbet, scientifically known as Capito dayi.

This bird species is usually found in the Western Amazonian region and is known for their loud calls. In this article, we’ll learn about the identification of this bird, its plumages, and molts, as well as the species that it has similarities to.


Field Identification

The Black-girdled Barbet is approximately 20 cm in length, with a large head, short neck, and short tail. One of the most prominent features of this bird is its brightly colored plumage, which varies in shades of green and yellow.

The Capito dayi has a black girdle around its neck, which gives the species its name. The black area extends from the bird’s bill down to the nape of its neck, and it separates the green-blue crown and nape from the brownish-olive mantle and back.

Similar Species

The Black-girdled Barbet has some similarities to other bird species, notably the Spotted Barbet, which can be found in both the Eastern and Western Amazon. Although similar in size to the Black-girdled Barbet, the Spotted Barbet has a different plumage pattern with spots on its belly.

The Yellow-breasted Barbet has a similar appearance to the Black-girdled Barbet because they share the same combination of colors. However, Yellow-breasted Barbets can be distinguished by their bright yellow breast and lack of a black girdle around their neck.


The Black-girdled Barbet has a few distinctive plumages that make them easy to identify. Their plumage colors usually remain the same throughout their lifespan.

Their plumage can be divided into two sections – the head and the body. The bird’s head has a green-blue crown and nape with brownish-olive cheeks.

Its eyes are surrounded by a thin white ring, which contrasts with its green face. The body also has a brownish-olive mantle and back with bright yellow underparts.

Their wings and tail feathers are bright yellow, with olive-green tips.


Black-girdled Barbets undergo two molts within one year. The first molt occurs in September and October, and the second around January and February.

During molting, the feathers on their head and body are replaced, with the new feathers having a brighter color. Male Black-girdled Barbets are more colorful than females, especially during breeding season when they display vivid red markings around their eyes and bill.

This red marking is used to attract potential mates.


In conclusion, the Black-girdled Barbet is a beautiful and unique bird species found in the Western Amazon and holds a prominent place in the birding world. Their black girdle and colorful plumage distinguish them from other bird species, and their molting process results in a brighter color of their feathers.

Observing and learning the unique characteristics of this species can make the birdwatching experience more fulfilling and enjoyable.

Systematics History

The Black-girdled Barbet (Capito dayi) belongs to the family Capitonidae, commonly known as American barbets. Barbets are primarily found in the Neotropical region, which includes Central and South America, and the Caribbean islands.

The family has a total of 14 genera and around 80 species, making it a diverse group.

Geographic Variation

Black-girdled Barbets are typically found in the western Amazonian region, mainly in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil. However, their distribution is often affected by human activity, such as deforestation.

Due to their distribution, there is geographic variation in their plumage and morphology. The northern populations of Black-girdled Barbets tend to have a brighter yellow color on their underparts than their southern counterparts, which have a more olive-yellowish color.

Additionally, the southern populations have a smaller bill size, shorter wings, and tail, than the northern populations. These differences are thought to be adaptation to differences in the habitat and food availability across their range.


The Black-girdled Barbet has three recognized subspecies, which are primarily differentiated by their geographic location and plumage variation. These are:


Capito dayi aurantiicinctus: Found in the northwest part of Peru. The population has a red throat and a more orange-black girdle than the nominate subspecies.

2. Capito dayi dayi: The nominate subspecies, found in the central and southern part of the Peruvian Amazon to northern Bolivia.

The population has an olive-colored crown, green cheeks, brownish-olive back, yellow belly, and a black girdle that extends from the bill to the nape. 3.

Capito dayi siccus: Found in the southeast part of Peru to southwestern Brazil and northeastern Bolivia. The population has a brownish-olive crown, green-yellow cheeks, brownish-olive back, olive-yellow belly, and a black girdle.

Related Species

Capitonidae is a diverse group of birds found in the Neotropical region, with the Black-girded Barbet being one of the most distinctive. However, there are other species of barbets that are closely related to Capito dayi.

One of the closest relatives of the Black-girdled Barbet is the scarlet-crowned barbet (Capito aurovirens), which is found in the eastern Andes of Colombia and Ecuador. Both species share similarities in plumage color and size, but the scarlet-crowned barbet has a red crown and a black girdle.

Another related species is the versicolored barbet (Eubucco versicolor), which is found in the western Amazon basin in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. This species has a similar green and yellow coloration as the Black-girdled Barbet but has a bright red bill, chest, and forehead.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The distribution of Black-girdled Barbets has been affected by human activities, such as deforestation and habitat destruction. These activities have caused a decline in the population of the species in some parts of their range.

In Ecuador, the species is considered vulnerable due to the loss of habitat resulting from logging and agriculture. Moreover, as a result of climate change, the ranges of many bird species are projected to shift, affecting their distribution and abundance.

A study conducted by ZACCARDI et al. (2017) showed that, due to climate change, the distribution of the Black-girdled Barbet is expected to decline by 26% by 2080.

This decline is attributed to the loss of suitable habitat in the Western Amazon basin. Given the global concern for biodiversity conservation, understanding the factors that determine the distribution of bird species is crucial in managing their populations.

Research on the distribution pattern of the Black-girdled Barbet can help identify key areas that need protection and inform targeted conservation efforts for this unique bird species.


In conclusion, the Black-girdled Barbet is a fascinating bird species found in the Western Amazonian region with a unique plumage and morphological characteristics. Due to human activities and climate change, this species is facing significant threats to its survival.

The study of their systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, and related species, as well as the changes in distribution history, is essential in informing efforts to conserve this species and its habitats.


The Black-girdled Barbet is native to the Amazonian region of South America, primarily found in the western part of the Amazon basin. It inhabits tropical forests, particularly lowland forests and gallery forests, where it usually feeds on fruits and insects.

The Black-girdled Barbet prefers semi-open, shrubby habitats and edges along forest streams, where there is abundant food availability. They are also found in areas affected by human activities, such as pastureland, secondary growth, and forest fragments.

Movements and Migration

The Black-girdled Barbet is a non-migratory bird, meaning that it does not undergo long-distance seasonal migration. Instead, it remains within its resident territory throughout the year.

These territories may overlap with other bird pairs, but they maintain them through calling activities and other displays. However, there can be some movement of individuals within a particular area.

Usually, young birds disperse and establish their territories within the same area as their parents. They can move up to an average distance of 640 meters from their natal site.

The Black-girdled Barbet has a limited flight capacity and usually remains within its habitat range. Their flight is generally short and direct, with a fluttering style, aided by rapid wing flapping.

They often move through flyways along with other frugivorous birds searching for fruiting trees within their range. Factors Affecting

Habitat and Movement

Human activities such as forest fragmentation, mining, agriculture, and logging can alter the quality and quantity of forest habitat, which may affect the Black-girdled Barbet’s movement and habitat range.

Habitat loss and fragmentation may lead to a reduction in gene flow between populations, leading to the development of subspecies which are geographically isolated. Furthermore, habitat degradation can affect the food availability of Black-girdled barley, which is primarily fruit and insects, subsequently influencing their survival, and movements.

In disturbed habitats, fruiting trees density can be low and patchy, which forces the birds to disperse over longer distances to search for food. This dispersion can lead to higher predation rates and an increase in competition.

Conservation Implications

The Black-girdled Barbet is considered a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, habitat degradation and deforestation are the primary threats to this species in its natural habitat.

As human activities continue to impact their habitat, it is essential to monitor their movements and distribution pattern to inform conservation strategies that protect the remaining populations. To conserve the Black-girdled Barbet, there is a need for sustained efforts to protect its habitat.

Steps that can be taken include the creation of protected areas, sustainable forest management, and the restoration of degraded habitats. Additionally, community involvement in conservation activities is crucial, as it can help to garner support for sustainable development policies that protect biodiversity.


The Black-girdled Barbet is a non-migratory bird, remaining within its resident territory all year round. It prefers semi-open shrubby habitats and edges along forest streams where there is abundant food availability.

There can be individual movements within a particular area, particularly of juvenile birds dispersing from their natal site. Human activities such as forest fragmentation and habitat degradation threaten the quality of the bird’s habitat, leading to increased competition and predation.

Conservation efforts towards the protection of Black-girdled Barbet must include measures to preserve and manage their habitat range.

Diet and Foraging


The Black-girdled Barbet is mainly frugivorous, and its diet depends on the availability of fruit within their habitat range. They often feed on the fruiting trees that are abundant in their habitat.

They are also known to actively prey on insects, particularly during the breeding season, to provide sufficient protein for their developing chicks.

Apart from fruit and insects, they are also known to feed on seeds and other plant matter.

They have been observed to occasionally visit cultivated fruit trees, making them susceptible to human-wildlife conflicts.


The diet of the Black-girdled Barbet is primarily composed of fruits and insects. During the fruiting season, they feed on a diverse range of fruits, including figs, palm fruits, and other tropical tree fruits.

Studies have shown that certain tree species, such as Cecropia spp. and Inga spp., are important sources of fruit for the Black-girdled Barbet.

When feeding on fruits, they use their bill to break open the fruit, swallowing both the pulp and seeds in one gulp. Their digestive system is adapted to grinding and digesting the seeds, which pass undamaged through their gut.

The undigested seeds are later excreted, playing a vital role in seed dispersal for the fruits that they consume.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Like all birds, the Black-girdled Barbet is endothermic, meaning that it can control its internal body temperature independently of external temperatures. A high metabolism rate is vital for the bird’s thermoregulation, particularly in their tropical habitat.

The Black-girdled Barbet has several physiological adaptations that help them regulate their internal temperature. For instance, they have a high metabolic rate, which helps to maintain a consistent body temperature within their optimal range.

They also have a circulatory system that directly cools their blood by circulating it through their respiratory system.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


The Black-girdled Barbet is known to be a vocal species, with their calls and songs being the most common way of communicating with others within their species. They produce a distinctive series of calls and songs that are used for various functions, including territory defense, courtship, and alarm calls.

Their songs are generally described as a series of whistling notes that cascade up and down in pitch, with the males having more complex and varied songs. They also produce a variety of chirps, wails, and other throaty noises that are often used during courtship displays.

The Black-girdled Barbet’s calls are among the loudest of all of the barbets, and they are often heard from a considerable distance away. They are known to repeat single notes or repeat phrases of several notes up to six times in succession, often at elevated rates.

Their vocalizations are an essential tool for researchers studying the species, as they are used to both locate and differentiate among individuals. Vocalizations also provide insight into the unique behaviors and relationship dynamics of the Black-girdled Barbet and other avian species in their habitat.


In conclusion, the Black-girdled Barbet is a frugivorous bird that primarily feeds on fruits and insects. Their metabolic rate helps to maintain their internal temperature and enables them to thrive in their tropical habitat.

The vocalizations of the Black-girdled Barbet are an important tool used by researchers to study the species and to understand their behaviors and relationship dynamics. Overall, the Black-girdled Barbet has unique adaptations and vocalizations that help it survive and thrive in its habitat.



The Black-girdled Barbet is primarily arboreal, moving in trees or shrubs by hopping from branch to branch. Their short, rounded wings and broad tail make them agile flyers over short distances.

These birds are not well-suited to long flights as they tire quickly due to their limited flight capacity.

Self Maintenance

The Black-girdled Barbet engages in a series of activities to maintain its feathers’ condition, including preening, stretching, and wing quivering. Preening refers to the bird’s behavior to maintain its feathers clean and healthy.

They use their bills to remove any debris from their feathers and oil them to maintain their texture and coloration.

Agonistic Behavior

The Black-girdled Barbet is a territorial bird species that displays aggressive behavior towards other individuals within their territory. Their territorial displays include calling, flying, and chasing behaviors that aim to defend resources such as food and nesting sites against intruders.

Sexual Behavior

Black-girdled Barbets are monogamous, with a single breeding pair being established during the breeding season. The males engage in courtship displays, such as bill rubbing and wing quivering, and display their red markings on the foreheads to attract females.


The breeding season of the Black-girdled Barbet occurs from November to February, during which the pairs construct their nests in tree holes. Both males and females are involved in nest building and maintenance, although the males are more involved in feeding the chicks.

The Black-girdled Barbet usually lays an average of 2 to 3 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for about two weeks. After hatching, the chicks are fed insects and fruit regurgitated by the parents.

The chicks fledge within 40 to 50 days, after which they leave the nest and become independent.

Demography and Populations

The population size of the Black-girdled Barbet is not known but believed to exceed 10,000 individuals. Due to habitat degradation, the species is declining in certain areas, which may affect the demography of the bird.

Climate change is also a significant threat to the Black-girdled Barbet’s survival, as it modifies the plant phenology and distribution, affecting the food availability to these birds. Efforts to monitor the species’ population size, distribution, and breeding success are important in understanding the conservation status of Black-girdled Barbets.

Additionally, community engagement can aid in habitat restoration and protection strategies that promote sustainable development practices that safeguard biodiversity.


In conclusion, the Black-girdled Barbet is an arboreal species that relies mainly on tropical fruits and insects. During breeding, they display agonistic and sexual behaviors that help them establish territories and mating pairs.

The species breeds monogamously, with both parents being involved in nest-building and chick rearing. The species is declining in some areas due to habitat degradation and climate change, and efforts to monitor their populations, distribution range, and breeding success is crucial in developing strategies to protect this species and its habitat.

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