Red-headed Barbet

There’s no better advertisement for Costa Rica’s birds than the stunningly beautiful Red-headed Barbet (Eubucco bourcierii). Friend Larry Waddell is a resident of the little coffee town of Aquiares, just outside Turrialba, and was in the right place at the right time earlier this week to capture this fine shot of a very handsome male:

Male Red-headed Barbet at Aquiares; photo by Larry Waddell

The female often accompanies the male and although lacking the conspicuous red head, she is a very pretty bird in her own right:

Female Red-headed Barbet, courtesy of Fernando BurgalĂ­n

You can never be sure when you might encounter this species. It is found mostly in humid highland forest but generally not at the very highest elevations. It is said never to vocalise, in stark contrast to our other, rather more common, barbet, the Prong-billed Barbet (Semnornis frantzii), whose loud and repetitious call can be heard at a great distance in similar habitat. Barbets are related to the toucans. The Prong-billed, called ‘checho‘ by the locals in our area, is often found in small flocks. It is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama.

Prong-billed Barbet at Calle Vargas, on the Turrialba Volcano slope; photo by Larry Waddell

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