One more quick post about birds before returning to my talk about endemic plants. While our group of botanists and ornithologists were visiting our Dracula Reserve, we saw and heard the Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan (Andigena laminirostris, subject of my last post) but we also often heard the remarkable Toucan-Barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus). Curiously, these two birds have a remarkably similar and rather bizarre color pattern. Both have black crowns, blue throats, ochre backs, light yellow rump patches, red lower underparts (though the red is more extensive in the barbet), and bright warm yellow flank patches under the wings. I think this is unlikely to be an accident, and may be a case of mimicry on the part of the barbet. Perhaps the mountain-toucan, which eats nestlings and has a nasty beak, is feared by other birds? And so maybe other birds shy away from the barbet too, reducing competition for fruit when a barbet arrives in a tree? Speculation, I know, but what the heck–this is a blog, not a textbook.
Maybe this resemblance may also help the barbet win fights over nest cavities, if they rob cavities from other birds.
I should note that the Toucan-Barbet and the mountain-toucan belong to different families, though the families are sister groups. Most other members of both families don’t look like this, so the similarity of these two species is probably not due to inheritance from a common ancestor.