• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Blue-eared Barbet - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by jaray
Kang Kra Jan National Park, Thailand

Includes: Black-eared Barbet

Psilopogon duvaucelii


The major division is between black-eared and blue-eared subspecies which differ slightly in size

  • forehead black
  • crown with blue which variably extends to mid-crown and beyond; hind crown green
  • throat light or pale blue
  • band between the throat and breast black: variably present, thickness varies with subspecies
  • ear-coverts black
  • crown blue: extent varies with subspecies
  • spot below eye large, red
  • stripe behind and above eye red
  • stripe from near base of bill back extending rearwards red (separated from bill base by black) (with above, forms a red cheek patch)
  • body green
  • beak dark, stout

Blue-eared Group

Photo © by robby thai
Khao Nam Khang National Park, Thailand, May 2018

16-17 cm, 6.3-6.7 inches. 31.6-39.5 g, 1.1-1.4 oz. Subspecies cyanotis and orientalis

Black-eared Group

Size as Blue-eared, slightly lighter: 26.3-37 g, 0.93-1.3 oz. Subspecies duvaucelii, gigantorhinus and tanamassae

See also Subspecies.


Asia: found in China, Tibet, Nepal, India, Eastern Himalayas, Bangladesh, Bhutan
Southeast Asia: Indochina, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Malay Peninsula, Brunei, Borneo, Indonesia, Greater Sundas, Sumatra


Sometimes placed in the genus Megalaima. Formerly considered conspecific with Little Barbet.

Reference [5] notes that the black- and blue-eared groups are sometimes split as different species: subspecies cyanotis, and orientalis as "Blue-eared Barbet", P. cyanotis and duvaucelii, gigantorhinus and tanamassae as "Black-eared Barbet", P. duvaucelii despite a wide hybrid zone on the Malayan Peninsula.


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:

  • P. d. cyanotis: "Blue-eared Barbet". South-eastern Nepal to Bangladesh, north-eastern India, southern China, Burma, Malay Peninsula. [Blue ear-coverts; orangey red cheek patch; narrow black band between throat and breast]
  • P. d. orientalis: "Blue-eared Barbet". Eastern Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. [Blue ear-coverts; generally slightly larger and paler than P. d. cyanotis; thin red patch below the black line separating the throat and breast]
  • P. d. duvaucelii: "Black-eared Barbet". Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Bangka Island and Borneo. [Black ear-coverts; thick black band between throat and breast some have red below; pale loral spot]
  • P. d. gigantorhinus: "Black-eared Barbet". Nias Island (off north-western Sumatra). [Black ear-coverts; slightly longer bill than P. d. duvaucelii; often has blue spotted crown]
  • P. d. tanamassae: "Black-eared Barbet". Batu Islands (off western Sumatra) [Black ear-coverts; brighter blue hind crown and throat; red wash behind black breast line; more blue in tail]

Several additional subspecies are not recognised by all authorities [2].


Mainly primary coniferous forest, forest edge in lowlands and foothills. May frequent new growth and patchy forest.

Blue-eared Group

Also visits plantations, gardens, deciduous and bamboo forest. Mainly below 1200 m, but below 700 m in Bhutan. Has been recorded to 1525 m in southeast Asia and to 1600 m in southwest China

Black-eared Group

Also visits rubber and silk tree plantations, gardens, mangroves, bamboo, peatswamp and deciduous forest. Mainly below 1000 m, but only to 975 m in peninsular Malaysia, 1065 m on Borneo and up to about 1500 m on Sumatra



Fruit of figs and other. Also insects. Takes fruit averaging 11.6 mm. Forages in groups of up to 100 at fruiting trees in Thailand. Has been seen foraging with pigeons and other species.


The breeding season is largely dependant on geography. Sings for up to 2 hours at a time during the breeding season by both pair members simultaneously. Head-bobbing, lateral tail movement. During courtship, fruit is offered before copulation. Nest excavated in dead tree, often on the underside of branches at up to 25 m, but mainly between 3-12 m.

Blue-eared Group

Lays 4 white eggs.
Breeding season:

  • January to August in much of range.
  • March to September in Thailand.
Black-eared Group

Male inflates black skinned gular sacs when singing
Breeding season:

  • January to July in Peninsular Malaysia
  • February to October on Sumatra and it's islands
  • December to January and May to June on Borneo


The double note song of Little Barbet is given throughout range, but study is needed to document the variations with the species.

Black-eared Group

A "chiok-chiok-chiok" territorial call lasts up to 2 hours. The courtship call is a lot softer, not unlike a referee's whistle at 1-2 second intervals lasting for minutes.


Resident, territorial and sedentary with some post breeding movement away from breeding areas in search of fruit.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2014. IOC World Bird Names (version 4.4). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved October 2016)
  5. Eaton, JA, B van Balen, NW Brickle, FE Rheindt 2021. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago (Greater Sundas and Wallacea), Second Edition. Lynx Editions. ISBN978-84-16728-44-2

Recommended Citation

External Links