The Gold-whiskered Barbet (Megalaima chrysopogon), a near passerine bird from Southeast Asia, is a species of Asian Barbet. Like those species referred to by the common name "toucan", the Gold-whiskered Barbet is in the Ramphastidae family. In Mandarin Chinese it is known as ???? (j?nx? n?liè) "golden-whiskered false woodpecker" or ?????? (j?n jiá n?-zhuómù-ni?o) or as "gold-cheeked false woodpecker". Its Japanese name is ???????? or ????? (kih? goshikidori), "yellow-cheeked five-coloured bird." Bucco chrysopogon is a pseudonym.
At 24 to 30 centimeters in length and weighing from 110 to 181 grams, the Gold-whiskered Barbet is one of the largest of the sixteen species of barbets in Southeast Asia.. Their green overall plumage and yellow "whiskered" cheeks camouflages them amid the foliage they favor. Genders are similar in appearance but do display a small degree of sexual dichromatism in that the beaks of female specimens appear paler and have a dusky bluish color. Before reaching maturity birds of both sexes have duller overall plumage.
Habit and Diet
This bird spends most of the day singing and foraging for food in the forest canopy. Otherwise well camouflaged, their rapid and extraordinary loud "tehoop-tehoop-tehoop-tehoop" call often betrays their presence.
Gold-whiskered Barbets are frugivores that gorge themselves on berries, figs, and any edible fruits they can find. A bird watcher colorfully described the Gold-whiskered Barbet eating papayas in a private fruit orchard by writing:
Fraser's Hill, Malaysia 1994
What a glutton he was to possessively grab a chunk of the succulent fruit with his left claw; clung on the tree trunk with his right footed zygodactylous toes and demolishing another chunk of fleshy papaya breakfast in his honky beak...too engrossed in protecting his treasure trove of ripe and succulent papayas "?spoilt for choice to take much notice of me...Having had his fill, the barbet did not fly away but stayed around the tree to engage in sentry duties under shade of a spoke like foliage...Occasionally, he would return for a symbolic peck and indulgence of the fruits. At other times, would fly to his shady, staging area for a quick snooze as expressed by his nictitating membrane, at the same time trying hard to possessively stay awake to watch his fruits...(he was also) seen to hastily chase off his mate. No other fruit eating species of smaller birds present around dared or were allowed to perch on the same tree...
According to the same report, the Gold-whiskered Barbet is selective in its choice of fruits upon which to feed and did not bother to peck on intact ripening fruits when there were better fresh choices to be had. Also partially insectivorous, the Gold-whiskered Barbet eats flying termites and has been observed digging into dead wood searching for food. It also feeds on seeds and even small lizards.
Breeding season for the Gold-whiskered Barbet is from February to August. Their rounded, white eggs are laid two per clutch.
The Gold-whiskered Barbet is found in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Borneo and Sumatra.
Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montanes. They are found in lowland foothills and tall second growth forests but are rare in evergreen forests and swamp forests. The Gold-whiskered Barbet can also found be found on cocoa plantations.
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The following three subspecies of Gold-whiskered Barbet have been identified:
- Megalaima chrysopogon chrysopogon
- Megalaima chrysopogon laeta
- Megalaima chrysopogon chrysopsis