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Discover the Beautiful Colors and Calls of the Double-toothed Barbet

The Double-toothed Barbet, or Lybius bidentatus, is a colorful bird species often found in Africa’s tropical regions. With its distinctive appearance and distinct calls, the Double-toothed Barbet stands out among other birds.

In this article, we will dive into the birds identification, plumage, and behavior to help bird enthusiasts learn more about this interesting species.


Field Identification

The Double-toothed Barbet is a stocky bird with a round head and a short neck. It measures about 20 centimeters in length, and it has a bright red bill that is slightly curved and sharp.

The bird’s plumage is predominantly green, with white feathers on the throat and yellow feathers underneath the tail. The juvenile birds are similar in appearance, but they are duller in color.

They have a shorter bill than adult birds, and their feathers are not as bright or shiny.

Similar Species

In terms of appearance, the Double-toothed Barbet is often confused with other members of the barbet family. However, a closer look at the bird’s features will reveal some differences.

The bird’s red bill with black markings distinguishes it from other African barbet species. Furthermore, the Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, which is another bird species found in Africa, may be confused with the Double-toothed Barbet.

However, the Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird has a black and yellow bill, unlike the Double-toothed Barbet’s bright red bill.


The Double-toothed Barbet has two distinct plumages: the breeding plumage and the non-breeding plumage. During the breeding season, the bird’s plumage becomes brighter and more colorful, with more yellow and red feathers visible.

During the non-breeding season, the bird’s plumage becomes duller and less bright.


Bird molting is a process by which birds shed their old feathers and grow new ones. The Double-toothed Barbet molts twice each year.

They have a complete molt in the breeding season and a partial molt during the non-breeding season.


The Double-toothed Barbet is a territorial bird that feeds on fruit, insects, and small animals. During the breeding season, the bird can be heard calling to its mate with a distinct “coot coot coot” sound.

The bird is also known for its drumming behavior, which involves tapping its bill on trees to communicate with other members of its species.


With its bright colors and distinctive calls, the Double-toothed Barbet is a fascinating species that bird enthusiasts should learn about. Understanding its identification, plumage, and behavior is essential in appreciating the bird’s unique qualities.

By arming yourself with knowledge, you will be able to spot this species easily and enjoy its beauty. Systematics History:

The Double-toothed Barbet has a complex systematics history, with numerous classification systems proposed over the years.

It was initially classified as a member of the Toucan family, but later research showed that it is more closely related to the Honeyguides and Woodpeckers.

Geographic Variation:

The Double-toothed Barbet is found across sub-Saharan Africa and exhibits significant geographic variation in its appearance and vocalizations.

The degree to which different populations are separated and how this influences their behavior is still poorly understood. Nonetheless, this geographic variation has led scientists to categorize this bird into various subspecies.


There are at least 11 recognized subspecies of the Double-toothed Barbet distributed across Africa. These subspecies vary noticeably in their physical appearance and vocalizations.

The subspecies differ primarily in their bill size and molting pattern. The subspecies typically occupy different habitats, and some have a much broader range than others.

The subspecies are as follows:

1. L.

bidentatus bidentatus This subspecies is found in Nigeria and Cameroon. It is the type subspecies.

2. L.

bidentatus batesi This subspecies is found in eastern and southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique. 3.

L. bidentatus acuticaudatus This subspecies is found in western Tanzania.

4. L.

bidentatus major This subspecies is found in Angola, Zambia, and possibly the Democratic Republic of Congo. 5.

L. bidentatus johnstoni This subspecies is found in Kenya and northern Tanzania.

6. L.

bidentatus trothae This subspecies is found in western Congo and possibly western Angola. 7.

L. bidentatus pallidior This subspecies is found in western Uganda and adjacent parts of Congo.

8. L.

bidentatus centralis This subspecies is found in the Central African Republic and western Uganda. 9.

L. bidentatus rhodesiarius This subspecies is found in southeastern Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique, and northeastern South Africa.

10. L.

bidentatus granti This subspecies is found around the Victoria Falls in Zambia. 11.

L. bidentatus rufiventer This subspecies is found in southern Malawi, Zimbabwe, and northern South Africa.

Related Species:

The Double-toothed Barbet belongs to the family Lybiidae, which includes 27 species of African barbets. Barbets are related to toucans, woodpeckers, and honeyguides and share some similarities with these bird groups.

However, barbets are unique in that they have brightly colored plumage and distinctive bills, ideal for consuming their favorite diet of fruit. Historical Changes to Distribution:

The Double-toothed Barbet has a reasonably stable distribution but has undergone some historical changes in some regions.

The species’ range appears to have expanded significantly in the past due to human activities, such as the creation of new habitats through logging and other land management practices.

However, more recently, the species’ distribution has become more restricted, especially in areas where there has been habitat degradation or destruction, such as agricultural land use or urbanization.

Some of the subspecies have been reduced over their historical ranges, which has led to declines in their populations. Human activities, such as land-use changes and agriculture, have also threatened the bird species’ habitats.

These changes have pushed the bird species’ range into more restricted areas. The species’ range has also become increasingly fragmented, making it more challenging for its populations to survive.

Overall, the Double-toothed Barbet exemplifies the complexities of studying and protecting a bird species. Its systematics history, geographic variation, and subspecies continue to pose interesting questions for scientists and bird enthusiasts alike.

Understanding the historical changes to its distribution is essential for effective conservation measures to be put in place. Habitat:

The Double-toothed Barbet is widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa in a wide range of habitats.

It prefers to live in areas with dense vegetation, such as rainforests, gallery forests, and other forests. It inhabits primary and secondary forests, forest edges, and woodland mosaics, including savannas, scrublands, and thickets.

The bird species is not limited to a particular altitude and is found at various altitudes throughout its range. It is also known to thrive in some man-made habitats, such as plantations and urban areas, provided that enough vegetation is present.

Movements and Migration:

The Double-toothed Barbet is primarily a sedentary bird species, with little information on its seasonal or long-distance movements. Nevertheless, research has shown that some populations of the Double-toothed Barbet exhibit seasonal wandering due to changes in food availability.

During a study conducted in Ghana, it was observed that Double-toothed Barbets moved from the forest interior to forest edges during non-breeding periods. It is believed that these movements help the bird species to exploit a broader range of food resources during these periods.

Double-toothed Barbets have also been observed to move out of the forests during prolonged dry seasons to forage in nearby habitats. However, overall, the Double-toothed Barbet is not known to undertake regular or long-distance migrations.

The bird species is a year-round resident in most of its range, and it is considered sedentary across most of Africa. Conservation:

The Double-toothed Barbet is listed as a species of Least Concern, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The bird species is widespread throughout its range, and its populations appear to be stable and not currently considered threatened. The Double-toothed Barbet is present in several protected areas throughout its range, including national parks, nature reserves, and forest reserves.

These protected areas play a critical role in conserving the bird species’ habitats and remaining populations. The species is also found in a few areas where traditional beliefs protect them, with communities seeing them as sacred or lucky birds.

This cultural value helps in sheltering the bird species and its vegetation habitat. However, the bird species is still vulnerable to threats, such as habitat loss and fragmentation, and human activities, such as agriculture and logging.

Some populations of the Double-toothed Barbet have been declining due to these activities. Therefore, conservation measures, such as habitat restoration, are needed to conserve the species and its habitats.


In conclusion, the Double-toothed Barbet is a widespread and common bird species throughout its range in sub-Saharan Africa, and it is primarily a sedentary bird that moves around to exploit a broader range of food resources during non-breeding periods. The bird species is found in a wide range of natural and human-made habitats, from rainforests to plantations and urban areas.

The Double-toothed Barbet is not currently considered threatened, but the species and its habitats are still vulnerable to human activities, and conservation efforts are essential to preserving the species and its habitat. Diet and Foraging:


The Double-toothed Barbet is a frugivorous bird species that feeds primarily on fruit.

It also feeds on insects, arthropods, and small animals such as lizards and geckos. The bird species is an insistent feeder and sometimes feeds on nectar.

During feeding, the bird often perches on a branch and feeds on a fruit whilst holding it in one of its feet and using the other one to maintain balance. Diet:

The Double-toothed Barbet has a varied diet depending on the season, individual, and locality.

Its diet consists mainly of fleshy fruits of various sizes, colors, and shapes. Fruits consumed by this bird species are often found in the canopy, and Double-toothed Barbets inhabit the forest where most of these food sources grow.

During the fruiting season, Double-toothed Barbets feed predominantly on figs, guava, and other fruit species that become available. Research shows that the bird species has a preference for certain fruit species, such as raphia palm fruit and oil palm fruit, during specific seasons.

Sometimes Double-toothed Barbets feed on nectar, but this type of feeding is less common. Metabolism and Temperature Regulation:

The Double-toothed Barbet is a homeothermic bird species, which means it regulates its body temperature internally.

The bird species can maintain its body temperature within a narrow range, even when the ambient temperature fluctuates. However, during periods of high activity, such as foraging, the bird’s body temperature can increase slightly.

The bird species has a high metabolic rate, which is necessary to maintain its energy requirements. The rate of metabolism is influenced by various factors, such as age and body weight, and is crucial in maintaining the bird’s active lifestyle necessary for foraging and other activities to survive in their habitat.

Sounds and Vocal



The Double-toothed Barbet is known for its distinctive vocalizations, which include a series of loud, repetitive calls, such as ‘coot-coot-coot-coo!’ or ‘peek-peek-peek!’ delivered in unison by pairs or groups of birds. The bird species has several distinct vocalizations, including soft hoots, kitten-like purring, and metallic ‘tink’ or ‘plik’ calls.

Double-toothed Barbets produce calls using the syrinx, two sets of vocal cords located at the base of the trachea. The bird species’ mating behaviors are most notable for their vocal behavior, with pairs regularly dueting together, performing a back-and-forth exchange of calls.

Vocalization is primarily used for communicating with other members of one’s species, maintaining territorial boundaries, attracting a mate, or warning of any potential danger. Research shows that call frequencies can vary depending on habitat, location, and time of day when calls are made.

Overall, the Double-toothed Barbet’s vocal behavior is one of its distinctive traits, which makes it an interesting bird species to study. Understanding its vocalizations provides important insights into bird behavior, communication patterns, and adaptations to habitat.

The bird species’ foraging and diet also provide essential information for research on its behaviors and the ecosystem functioning of its native habitats.



The Double-toothed Barbet is primarily arboreal and moves through the forest canopy to search for food and breeding sites. The bird species hops from branch to branch with a bipedal gait, using its strong bill to grasp onto a branch when necessary.

Double-toothed Barbets are also able to fly, but this species prefers to hop through the branches while foraging. Self Maintenance:

The Double-toothed Barbet has a complex grooming behavior, which is necessary to maintain its plumage and overall hygiene.

Double-toothed Barbets use their bills to preen their feathers, which helps to remove dirt, parasites, and oils. They also use their bills to clean and sharpen their beak.

Additionally, they take frequent dust-bathing in their preferred dust or dirt pit areas to help keep their plumage clean. Agonistic


The Double-toothed Barbet can become aggressive when protecting their territories, especially during the breeding season.

They use a variety of displays, such as calls and posturing, to warn off potential competitors from their territory. However, the species is generally not aggressive to other bird species and is mostly interested in intra-species competition to find a mate and build a breeding territory.



Double-toothed Barbet breeding is influenced by autumn fruiting, and peak breeding tends to occur at the end of the dry season in most regions. During breeding, pairs engage in mutual preening, singing, and calling, with both male and female Double-toothed Barbets partaking in nest building.

During the mating season, the males become increasingly vocal and display their prowess vocally. Breeding:

The breeding season of the Double-toothed Barbet differs depending on the location.

They breed once or twice a year, with the breeding season varying depending on the climate and fruiting patterns. Pairs are monogamous during the breeding season, and both male and female birds work together to construct a spherical nest made of twigs, bark, and grass.

The bird species builds their nest in holes and crevices located in tree trunks, branches, or logs, at heights ranging from 3-30 meters above the ground. The male Double-toothed Barbet helps to incubate the eggs, which is unusual for many bird species.

During incubation, the male will sit on the eggs in the nest and keep them warm, while the female procures food. Each clutch typically contains two to four eggs that incubate for approximately 12-14 days.

The hatching period varies depending on the location and climate.

After hatching, the chicks are helpless, and the parents help raise them.

The chicks are fed by both parents with fruit and insects until they are strong enough to leave the nest. Young double-toothed barbets usually fledge around 4 weeks of age, although this also varies depending on the location and climate.

Demography and Populations:

The Double-toothed Barbet has a relatively stable population in its broad geographic range. However, habitat loss from human activities, such as deforestation and logging, can cause localized population declines.

As a result, the Double-toothed Barbet’s IUCN Conservation Status is considered to be of ‘Least Concern. The population size of the Double-toothed Barbet is currently unclear, but they are generally widespread across sub-Saharan Africa.

However, various studies have been conducted to estimate the population size of the bird in different regional areas. It is essential to monitor populations of species to determine if they are declining due to habitat destruction or other human activities.

Conservation efforts are needed to ensure that the Double-toothed Barbet populations remain viable for future generations. This may involve collaboration among scientists, governments, and other stakeholders to implement habitat protection measures and engender cultural values that support the conservation of non-human species.

In conclusion, the Double-toothed Barbet is a fascinating bird species found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. With its unique physical features, distinct calls, and varied diet, the bird represents a complex and interesting subject for naturalists and biologists.

Their breeding, demography, and population behavior is a reminder that human activities have consequences for the natural world. As such, it is essential to protect the habitats of these birds through conservation efforts and use these birds to preserve forests, natural reserves, and areas that are critical for the survival of biodiversity.

By understanding the diversity and behavior of animal species like Double-toothed Barbets, we

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