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Red and Yellow Barbets in Aviary

Red and yellow barbets

Posted December 2021

The Zoo welcomes two male red and yellow barbets to the Aviary. A new species to the Zoo, the barbets arrived from Sea World San Diego. One of the birds hatched in June 2017, and the other in May 2019. Both birds currently reside in the Aviary’s Termite habitat.

Red and yellow barbetsRed and Yellow barbets are omnivores and their diet here consists of a mixture of food including apples, bananas, melons, grapes, pineapple, cooked carrots and sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce and hard-boiled eggs in the shells. The mix is finely ground together and is combined with Apple Paradise Pellets, a commercial bird food with a variety of vitamins and nutrients. The mixture is topped with plenty of insects including mealworms, waxworms, crickets and chopped seasonal fruit.

Striking in their appearance, red and yellow barbets’ forehead to hind crown are jet black ending in a slight crest. They have white ear patches, and the upper part and necklace are black with round white spots. The breast is orange to red orange; the lower part of the body and sides are bright yellow. The males also have a black chin stripe.

Red and yellow barbetsRed and yellow barbets are known as a very melodious species – singing loud duets with a long bubbling medley. The duet sounds like its English name, “red’n yellow,” repeated over and over.

In the wild, red and yellow barbets are found in grasslands, forests and riverbanks of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Interestingly, when nesting in the wild, the nest is excavated by both adults about 1 to13 feet from ground level in termite mounds or earthen banks. The cavity is 16 inches or more deep with the nesting chamber about 3 ½ inches by 4 ½ inches. The chamber may have some grass or feathers present. When MCZ receives a female red and yellow barbet in the future, it will be a first-time experience using the artificial termite mound in the Aviary habitat to encourage nesting.

When visiting, take a break from the chilly weather to see the red and yellow barbets!