How God created the Crested Barbet
An amazing bird-the Crested Barbet
How God created the Crested Barbet.
An African Legends says that after God had created all the birds, he had an assortment of feathers in a variety of colours, left over and so he decided to use them to create the last bird, the one that we call the Crested Barbet. There is no doubt that this bird, which is found in the “bushveld” of South Africa in places like the Kruger National Park, or Mhkuze Game Reserve, is indeed a sight to behold. Not only does he have many colourful feathers they seem to be haphazardly thrown together. The call of these birds is easy to recognize as it consists of a rather shrill rattling noise from the male bird and a repeated 'puka-puka' reply from the female/.
Outside our room at the African Christian College where Audrey and I are staying for two weeks, a pair of these birds is busy preparing for the winter that has begun to be felt here in Manzini, Swaziland. They are foraging for food as if it is going out of fashion, and in a way it is. As we saw one flying across the road today, we were again amazed at the beautiful flash of colour. A closer inspection however, told us that they were molting, and so they had a rather scruffy look, even more disheveled than usual.
The Crested Barbet is part of the Woodpecker family of birds and so they can be heard pecking away at a tree stump that had died some time ago and is now of little use, except to these Barbets who make their nests in them.Here they are however looking for food and the insects that live under the bark make up a large part of their diet.
They should perhaps be called “Joseph Birds” because of their coat of many colours, as Lynn Hendricks, a fellow lecturer decided. It is also a good bird to represent our country, South Africa, which Desmond Tutu called the “Rainbow Nation” shortly before the first election in 1994, that all South Africans could be a part of.
There are six kinds of Barbets, four Tinker Birds and ten Woodpeckers who are all loosely related and grouped together in the regions bird handbooks. A visit to one of the wilderness areas will be rewarded by the knocking noise that indicates a woodpecker is busy at work or the distinctive calls that tell the birder to look for one of these distinctive members of the bird family. But undoubtedly a sighting of a Crested Barbet with its multi-coloured feathers will be a treat to be savoured and remembered.