|Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves (Birds) Order: Piciformes Family: Megalaimidae|
Barbets (birds of Megalaimidae family) perch and climb well and have 'two toes forward, two toes back' foot structure that allows for a good grip. This is a grasping or perching foot, and in climbing a near-vertical branch the outer toe may be swung forwards or sideways. Megalaimidae (Barbets) do not support themselves on their tail feathers except when excavating their nests. Dead wood is important for barbets to excavate nesting holes, which they also use for roosting all year round. Barbets hop and clamber about trees, move rather heavily through low bushes or on the ground, and often perch still for long periods. They fly well, but look a bit heavy and generally fly only for short stretches. Barbets are mainly fruit eaters, but their fast-growing chicks are fed on a high protein diet of insects. Barbets have an important role in seed dispersal.
Most barbets have breeding territories and they proclaim and defend it by singing. Often other birds join in the chorus, apparently to communicate the strength of the group. The courtship displays are limited, being required only to synchronize breeding condition between male and female. Breeding displays include exposure of color patches, with feathers being erected to maximize the effect. Pairs focus their courtship activity around their nest. Barbets are long-lived birds with strong pair bonds, cemented by activities such as mutual grooming.
The nest is in a hole in a tree, usually freshly excavated. Smaller species nest in dead branches, digging in from beneath a horizontal bough. The hole enters a vertical shaft ending in a wider chamber in which the eggs are laid. In some species several “helpers” may be involved in digging the nest. Wood chips are carried away, sometimes being swallowed and then regurgitated elsewhere. Barbet eggs are pure white and the clutch size is up to six (typically three). Incubation varies from 12 days for the smallest to 19 days for larger species. Once the chicks are hatched, adult barbets keep the nest clean, probably swallowing or carrying away the chicks’ droppings. Nestlings of small species leave the nest after 17 to 23 days, larger ones remaining as long as 30.