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Discover the Intricate World of the Black-Browed Barbet: Plumage Diet and Behaviors

Black-browed Barbet: A unique and colorful bird species

When it comes to bird watching, spotting the Black-browed Barbet, also known as Psilopogon Oorti, is a treat for bird enthusiasts. This small, colorful bird with its distinct black plumage on its head and throat, green wings, and a pale yellow or orange belly is a perfect example of the diverse beauty of the natural world.


Field Identification

The Black-browed Barbet is a small bird, usually measuring between 6-8 inches long. They have green feathers on their wings, back, and tail.

A prominent feature is the jet-black feathers around their head that extend down to their throat, creating the appearance of a crisp black collar. Their bill is quite large and stout and appears almost parrot-like, which is a clue to its genus Psilopogon.

Similar Species

One can easily mistake the Black-browed Barbet for other birds with similar green plumage. However, its black collar gives it a unique identity, and it is not easily mistaken for any other species.

However, the Blue-throated Barbet, also known as Psilopogon asiaticus, resembles the Black-browed Barbet with only a slight difference in their plumage. The Blue-throated Barbet has a blue color beneath to its black collar.



The Plumage of Black-browed Barbet undergoes a molting process in which they shed their old feathers and grow new ones. During the post-juvenile molt or pre-basic molt, the young barbet replaces its feathers after it fledges (leaves the nest).

This molt can occur from late May to the end of August. Similar to other birds, Barbet species show significant differences in plumage between the sexes.

In the case of Black-Browed Barbets, male Barbets have a distinct black band just below their beak that is entirely absent in the females. Adult Barbets typically undergo a single pre-basic molt, during which they replace their feathers’ coloring and structure; the timing of this molt may differ for every location.


In conclusion, the Black-Browed Barbet is a unique and colorful bird that can be observed in its habitats throughout Southeast Asia. It’s always fascinating to learn about the intricate details and rare features found in a single bird species.

Learning about the Black-browed Barbet’s plumage can make bird watching enjoyable and informative.

Systematics and Historical Changes of the Black-browed Barbet

The Black-browed Barbet, also known as Psilopogon oorti, belongs to the family of Asian barbets, which includes woodpeckers and toucans. This small-sized bird species is well known among bird enthusiasts and has a unique systematics history and distribution changes worth discussing.

Systematics History:

The Black-browed Barbet’s systematics history can be traced back to 1843 when renowned ornithologist Johann Georg Wagler first described it as Bucco oorti from Sumatra. Then in 1850, French ornithologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte renamed it as Megalaima oorti.

Later on, Italian zoologist Tommaso Salvadori reclassified it to Megalaima oorti sordida in 1879. It was not until Philip Lutley Sclater, a British zoologist, named it as Psilopogon oorti in 1881 that the species got its current name.

Geographic Variation:

The Black-browed Barbet’s extensive range is from Burma eastward into Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and across Sumatra Island. The barbet is an endemic bird species found in Southeast Asia’s tropical and subtropical forests, especially in the lowlands and hills, up to an elevation of about 1600 meters.


The Black-browed Barbet has five subspecies: P. o.

oorti, P. o.

flavipectus, P. o.

chersonesus, P. o.

salvadorii, and P. o.

emilae. P.

o. oorti is resident from the Peninsular Mountains of Thailand southwest into northern Malaysia.

P. o.

flavipectus is from southern Burma’s Tanintharyi region through the Malay Peninsula and nearby islands in the Sumatran region. P.

o. chersonesus occurs in central and eastern Thailand.

P. o.

salvadorii occurs in Sumatra’s central and eastern regions. P.

o. emilae is endemic to Anambas Island, off the east coast of Sumatra.

Related Species:

The Black-browed Barbet is a member of the “green barbet” group under the genus Psilopogon of the Megalaimidae family. There are over 30 known species under the Psilopogon genus in Southeast Asia.

Other members of this group include the Golden-throated Barbet (P. franklinii), the Brown-headed Barbet (P.

zeylanicus), and the Blue-throated Barbet (P. asiaticus), to which it bears a strong resemblance.

Historical Changes in Distribution:

The Black-browed Barbet historically had a more extensive range, covering central and northwestern Thailand and southern Myanmar’s lowlands. However, deforestation and habitat degradation have significantly influenced historical changes in the barbet’s distribution, leading to its decline across the region.

One example of the distribution changes caused by habitat fragmentation is in Thailand’s Phetchaburi province, where the barbets were once abundant in the forests lining the river banks of the Phetchaburi river basin. However, these forests’ gradual destruction has been attributed to encroachment and disturbance by human activities, resulting in barbet’s extinction from the region.

Another example of the historical changes in distribution is in Sumatra, where the barbet is native, and its habitat is being destroyed by forest fires, logging, and land conversion. This has led to the decline of barbet populations in Sumatra Island.

However, conservation efforts are being implemented to protect the remaining population of Black-browed Barbets.


In conclusion, the Black-browed Barbet is a unique bird species with an intriguing history of systematics and distribution changes. Human activities have been the primary driver of Black-browed Barbet population declines, with habitat loss due to deforestation being the primary factor.

Efforts to protect the remaining population of this species remain a priority, and it’s our responsibility to preserve the habitat for this and other bird species.

Habitat and Movements of the Black-browed Barbet

The Black-browed Barbet is a small bird species native to Southeast Asia with an extensive range that spans across Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Sumatra Island. This bird species has unique habitat requirements and movements worth exploring.


The Black-browed Barbet is a resident bird species and resides throughout the year in its natural habitat. Its habitat consists of a combination of lowland and montane moist forests located close to streams, rivers, or watercourses.

Similar to other barbet species, the Black-browed Barbet primarily feeds on fruits, insects, and nectar from flowers. Therefore, it prefers trees and bushes that bear fruit throughout the year and provide a good source of nectar.

Movements and Migration:

Black-browed Barbets are mostly sedentary birds and seldom undertake long-distance movements or migrations. However, some local movements are observed, especially during breeding seasons.

The male barbet may move from its territory in search of a female, while the female may move from her current location in search of a more suitable nesting site. These movements consequently result in dislocation of both birds.

Breeding and nesting activity for most barbet species occur from March to June, and this is when increased movements are observed. The Black-browed Barbet nests in holes made on the trees, usually bored by the birds themselves or utilizing abandoned tree cavities.

The species lays two to three eggs, which are incubated for approximately two weeks. The young barbets are born helpless and blind and are fed by both adults.

While the Black-browed Barbet is primarily a sedentary bird species, occasional movements have been observed, especially outside the breeding season. For example, during the dry season when the availability of food sources in the bird’s typical habitat is low, they may move to different habitats in search of food, but these movements are usually within short distances.

Another reason for occasional movements by the Black-browed Barbet is habitat variability. Although this bird species prefers a moist forest habitat, droughts or other natural phenomena, such as flooding or forest fire, can reduce their habitat and force them to move to other areas.

However, it’s worth noting that there is no evidence of long-distance movements or migration of Black-browed Barbets, even during extreme weather conditions or climate change. Conservation Implications:

Habitat fragmentation and degradation through ongoing human activities, such as deforestation and urbanization, pose a significant threat to the Black-browed Barbet’s survival.

These activities remove or degrade the birds’ preferred moist forest habitat, limiting their movements and forcing them to shift their habitat and feeding behavior with time. Therefore, it’s important to protect and conserve this species’ habitat to facilitate their breeding, nesting, and feeding activities.

In conclusion, the Black-browed Barbet is a sedentary bird species that typically resides in its natural habitat throughout the year. These bird species primarily feed on fruits, insects, and nectar from flowers and require enough habitat for their breeding and nesting activities.

Although occasional movements are observed, Black-browed Barbets remain primarily sedentary and lack long-distance movements or migration patterns. Conservation efforts, therefore, should focus on protecting and conserving the bird’s habitats as a means of ensuring their survival and well-being.

Diet and Foraging Behavior of the Black-browed Barbet

The Black-browed Barbet is a small bird species that belongs to the family of Asian barbets, which includes woodpeckers and toucans. This bird species has unique dietary requirements and behavior worth exploring.


Black-browed Barbets have a frugivorous feeding habit; they primarily feed on fruits, nectar, and insects. Their bill’s stout structure with prominent bristles at the base helps them catch insects while allowing them to clamp and carry fruit.

They also have a brush-like tongue that can extract nectar from deep within flowers. Apart from fruits, nectar, and insects, Black-browed Barbets can consume other food sources, such as fig crops, tree sap, caterpillars, and beeswax.

Their diet changes primarily based on the availability of food in their habitat. Diet:

Black-browed Barbets prefer fruits with high sugar content, such as wild figs, to other fruit species.

The fruit is cut and manipulated before eating, while the fleshy portion is usually exclusively eaten, and the seeds or other components are spat out. The Black-browed Barbet’s diet also consists of insects, where they consume ants, beetles, and other insects to supplement their sugar-rich fruit diet.

Unlike their consumption of access eggs, this barbet’s diet is less likely to perceived as showing aggressive behavior. Metabolism and Temperature Regulation:

The Black-browed Barbet’s diet and foraging habit center around regulating their internal metabolism and body temperature.

These birds have a unique ability to maintain a constant internal temperature through the food they consume. The sugars in their diet provide a ready source of energy for their metabolic processes and help to regulate their body temperature.

During times of low food volumes or other stress conditions, the Black-browed Barbet has the ability to reduce its metabolic rate to conserve energy. Sounds and Vocal Behavior:

Black-browed Barbets are vocal birds, and they use a variety of calls to communicate with each other.

These calls are crucial in the bird’s social behavior, pair formation, territorial defense, and communication with young chicks in the nest. Vocalizations:

Black-browed Barbets make different calls that range from a series of cackles to musical notes, each of which carries a different meaning.

The most common calls include trills, toots, and rattles. The trill involves a series of fast, chirpy notes that are often used to communicate with birds within the bird’s territory.

The toot consists of a loud, clear whistle and is often utilized to alert other birds of a potential danger. The rattle, on the other hand, involves a rapid and continuous burst of notes that is often used during courtship or as a territorial display.

The duration and speed of the rattle usually indicate the bird’s territorial status and are often accompanied by head-bobbing or wing-flapping. In addition to these calls, Black-browed Barbets use harsh chips and whistles to warn others in their territory.


In conclusion, the Black-browed Barbet is a unique bird species with a frugivorous dietary requirement. These birds primarily feed on fruits, nectar, and insects to supplement their sugar-rich diet.

Their dietary pattern is regulated internally to control their metabolism and body temperature. Black-browed Barbets are also vocal birds, and their calls are crucial in their social behavior, pair formation, territorial defense, and communication with young chicks in the nest.

The trill, toot, and rattle are some common calls used by the Black-browed Barbet. Behavior, Breeding, Demography, and Populations of the Black-browed Barbet

The Black-browed Barbet is a small bird species with unique behavior, breeding patterns, and demographic trends.

This bird species’ behavioral patterns are linked to its physiology and genetics, ensuring they operate optimally within the surrounding environments. Locomotion:

The Black-browed Barbet is primarily a sedentary bird species with occasional movements, as previously stated.

When they do move elsewhere, they move through short, disjointed, and slow flights and hops. They have a weak flapping flight, and their primary mode of locomotion is through walking and hopping along branches or ground vegetation.


Black-browed Barbets maintain their feathers and bill structure through preening and grooming. The activity is often observed after feeding, and involves nibbling, rubbing, and shaking the feathers to remove any debris or dirt.

Grooming in these birds is essential to help them maintain their coloration and deter parasites to avoid damage to plumage. Agonistic Behavior:

The Black-browed Barbet, like other bird species, shows agonistic behaviors, such as territorial aggression and dominance displays.

The male birds perform aggressive behaviors towards opposing male species to defend their territories. The species sees any bird that encroaches into their territory as a significant threat and will defend their space with constant chattering, calls, or flights.

Occasionally, such interactions can escalate into physical contact involving bill clashing and boxing. Sexual Behavior:

Black-browed Barbets exhibit sexual behavior during the breeding season, which distinguishes the male and female easily.

The birds reproduce through bilateral symmetrical mating, and the male species take up the responsibility of excavating a nesting site on a tree cavity or rotten wood. Both male and female take up the roles of building the nest from scratch using saliva, plant matter, and dust.


The breeding season of the Black-browed Barbet typically starts in February and ends in June. The female bird will lay 2-3 white eggs that hatch after an incubation period of about 16-18 days, both sexes share the duty of incubation and chick-rearing.

The young birds generally fledge in approximately forty days and become fully independent in 80-90 days. Demography and Populations:

Although the Black-browed Barbet is widespread across its range, it has experienced declines in population due to loss of habitat, transformation of landscape, and habitat fragmentation.

As a result, conservation efforts are necessary, especially in areas where the species is vulnerable to human exploitation. The population densities of Black-browed Barbets are often low and variable across their range, particularly in heavily fragmented areas.

The latest IUCN conservation assessment classifies this barbet species as of least concern due to its vast range and varied habitats. However, many of its habitats are under severe pressure from human activities.


The Black-browed Barbet is a sedentary bird species with unique behaviors, breeding patterns, and population demographics. It primarily uses hopping, walking, and short flights as its mode of movement, while grooming and agonistic behavior are observed as essential survival characteristics.

Sexual behavior in these birds is tied to their breeding season, and both sexes share the responsibility of chick-rearing. The population densities are low and variable across their range, which highlights the need for conservation and protection efforts to safeguard the existence of this species.

The Black-browed Barbet is a unique bird species that inhabits Southeast Asia’s lush tropical and subtropical forests. Our exploration of this bird species has revealed intriguing insights into its habitat requirements and feeding habits, breeding patterns, and population demographics.

The Black-browed Barbet’s behaviors, such as grooming, agonistic displays, and familial roles during the breeding phase, are vital for its

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