Bearded Barbet

23rd June 2010

Distribution: Senegambia, Guinea-Bissan, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Central African Republic.


Status: Locally common resident.


Habitat: Tall trees such as figs, Acacias and baobabs at the edges of open woodland, clearings and secondary growth.


General habits: Forms social groups of 4-5 birds. It is a conspicuous barbet. Pairs or groups roost together in a tree cavity.


Feeding habits: It feeds on fruits and insects.


Breeding habits: The nest cavity is excavated in a dead tree or stump.

Nest: The cavity is excavated over a range of heights on any dead tree including palms. It also excavates nests in dead stubs of live trees.

Eggs: 2 white eggs

Young: It is reported that the young are fed on insects.


The Bearded Barbet is a near passerine bird with a tropical distribution. They get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills.


The Bearded Barbet is a common resident breeder in tropical west Africa. It is an arboreal species of gardens and wooded country which eats fruit, although the young are fed on insects. It nests in a tree hole, laying 2 white eggs.


This is a conspicuous, large barbet at 26 cm. It is fairly plump, with a short neck, large head and a shortish tail. The adult has a black crown, back, tail and breast band. The throat and belly are red and there is a yellow eye patch. The rump is white. The massive bill is very thick and yellow, and the well developed clump of bristles at its base give the species its name. Sexes are similar. The call is a growling scrawk.


The Bearded Barbet is found in well-wooded areas with plentiful fig trees. It will enter gardens for fruit. It forms social groups of 4-5 birds and pairs or groups roost together in a tree cavity.


Did You Know? Most closely related to toucans, the barbets are the second largest family n terms of number of species in the order Piciformes. This bird is unique in the fact that their upper bill has 2 deep grooves running perpendicular to the bill on each side.  These grooves appear to look like teeth from a distance as birds do not have teeth, these are actually a modification of the bill used to easily break and shear open fruit. Barbets and Toucans play an important role in seed dispersal in tropical forests. The Bearded barbet is similar to woodpeckers when they use their tail feathers as a prop when feeding or climbing on a tree.