Monday, October 3, 2011

Bird of the Month: Spot-crowned Barbet

The Spot-crowned Barbet (Capito maculicoronatus) is distributed from central Panama to northern South America. The barbets are colourful, chunky inhabitants of tropical forest and adjacent areas. Most of them exhibit sexual dimorphism like this species, with males more strikingly patterned. In Panama, the Spot-crowned Barbet is well distributed and common in the right habitat from the Caribbean slope in the central part (around the Canal area) to the east, where it can be found in both slopes. I took all these photos in the province of Darien, Pacific slope of eastern Panama, most of them in a recent trip to that province (all those of the female, with black breast and inspecting nesting sites). You can see in the second photo why this species is called spot-crowned (you may need to enlarge the picture). With some exceptions, almost all the members of this group eat mostly fruits, with some arthropods to add some proteins. There is an interesting taxonomic issue about the barbets. Traditionally, they were recognized as a worldwide family, closely related to others groups, like toucans. Then, some authors considered these two groups as one (barbets and toucans, with the toucans being recognized as simply big-billed barbets). Now, the picture is different: all the three major groups of barbets (neotropical, african and asian) are recognized as separate families, apart of the toucans. Not only that, some authors even split the neotropical barbets in two families: the "typical" barbets and the toucan-barbets (including the Prong-billed Barbet of Costa Rica and Panama and the Toucan-Barbet, endemic to the Choco bioregion of South America). More studies are needed but I'm pretty sure we have not hear the last word about them. For these, and many others reasons is why we choose the Spot-crowned Barbet as our bird of the month!

Literature consulted:

1. Angehr GR, Dean R. The birds of Panama. A field guide. 1st edition. 2010

2.Roberson D. Birds families of the world. 11th edition. Available at

1 comment:

  1. Hey, glad to see you back. I'll be looking this one up in my guide. Thanks.