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A new bird species in The Living Treehouse!

With spring here, the Bird Team at Zoo Atlanta is busier than ever with providing nest material for spring breeders, taking care of chicks from the winter breeding season, taking down heat lamps and other winter weather equipment, and moving birds from their behind-the-scenes winter homes to their new habitats. One of the new species to both the team and the Zoo is the red and yellow barbet! This species of barbet is native to east African forests, riverines, and grasslands and their conservation status is Least Concern, meaning that they are not globally threatened!

The male-female pair came to us in October, each from a different zoo in the United States. If you are trying to tell the difference between the male and female, you will have to pay close attention as they flit around the aviary. The males have black on their throats and crowns, while females have a pale throat and a crown that is speckled with black! Since their arrival, the two birds have been housed in our behind-the-scenes habitat that is a temperature-controlled environment. This species is used to warmer weather, so we didn’t want them outside in temperatures that their little bodies aren’t used to yet.

The two started off separate and then we slowly introduced them to each other, starting with just living in neighboring habitats and then being observed in how they interact with each other in the same space. The barbets got along perfectly and immediately began to show breeding behaviors, such as singing and digging together in their nest boxes! Since this pair has already been cared for by the Bird Team for about five months, we of course have chosen official-unofficial names for them. The two are affectionately called Barbie and Kendoll, but don’t confuse them; the female is Kendoll and the male is Barbie!

The red and yellow barbet breeding season is roughly March through September, so we are just at the beginning for them! In the wild, barbets excavate cliffsides and termite mounts to form a cavity for them to nest in. They also sleep in these little caves with at least one other barbet, but sometimes a whole group will cuddle up together! The Bird Team is continuously providing the barbets, and every other bird who is currently in their breeding season, with nesting material. The barbets get a little extra attention because we have to provide them with materials, such as palm wood or coconut substrate, to allow for their natural excavating behavior.

Barbie and Kendoll are officially housed in The Living Treehouse aviary! We are extremely excited to have these colorful little birds added to the aviary and are looking forward to (hopefully) seeing chicks in the next few months. I hope our guests at Zoo Atlanta can spot our red and yellow barbets and maybe even hear them sing their beautiful duet!

Madelyn M.
Keeper I, Birds

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl