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Crested Barbet

Bird of the month is the Crested Barbet, Trachyphonus vaillantii  or Kuifkophoutkapper in Afrikaans. 

Crested Barbet - photograph courtesy of Operation Wildflower

Colouring: Iris red-brown; bill yellow-green to greenish grey, tip dusky; legs and feet greenish grey. Head crested; back, tail and broad breast-band black, spotted and scalloped with white; head and face yellow, scaled with red; crest and nape black; rump red; belly yellow, broadly streaked red.

Voice: Sustained penetrating unmusical trill, lasting up to 30 seconds; sounds like an alarm clock with its bell removed.

Habitat: Thornveld, thickets in woodland, riverine bushveld, exotic plantations, parks, gardens.

Distribution: Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Northern Cape, Botswana, Caprivi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to Angola, Zaire and Tanzania.

Habits: Usually solitary or in pairs, vocal throughout the year, especially in early summer. May roost in disused nests, unusually in own nest hole. Tame - comes to feeding trays and nestboxes in gardens. Forages in bushes and trees and hops around on ground.

Food: Insects (especially termites), worms, fruit, snails, birds' eggs.

Breeding season: All months, but especially August to February. May rear up to four broods per season.

Incubation and fledging: Clutch: usually three white eggs. Incubation: 17 days. Nestling: 27-30 days.

References: Gordon Lindsay Maclean: Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa, Sixth Edition. 1993.

Kenneth Newman: Newman's Birds by Colour. 2000.

Photographs are generally courtesy of Gavin Orbel, Eric Stockenstroom and Mercia Komen of the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy/Oori; this series is a joint venture with Hartebeestfontein Conservancy (text).