BARBETS

During the late 1980’s, Anne Rudnick, a resident of Clarens, was involved with the compilation of the SA Bird Atlas and indicated that Crested Barbets occurred in Clarens. The Bird Society queried this as being a mistake as these birds simply did not occur in the Eastern Free State. After some correspondence, she sent them a photograph of the bird at her feeding table. Several bird identification books still indicate that these birds are not found in this area.

With their thick bills and very colourful feathers, Crested Barbets are easily recognised, and their distinctive long drawn out trill is often heard in our gardens. They feed on fruit and insects and have been known to attack rats and even to have killed a snake. These birds can become quite tame and will frequent feeding tables if the fruit is put out for them. They can be encouraged to nest if a length of sisal or algave is attached to a tree in the garden so as to face South. A shallow hole about the size of an R5 coin should be drilled in the log to help the Barbet excavate his nest.

The Black-collared Barbet is also easily recognized with his bright red throat and breast and broad black ‘collar’. They will visit feeding tables and often occurs in groups of several individuals. Their distinctive call which is a duet is well described by the Xosa name Isingogo, repeated several times Pied Barbets with the red spot on the forehead are also seen in the Eastern Free State.

Reference: Roberts Birds of Southern Africa.

Author: Craig Walters

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