|Male Red and Yellow Barbet, Manyara, Jan 2011|
|Female Red and Yellow Barbet, Manyara NP, Jan 2011|
Dueting is actually surprisingly common in birds - at least 120 species of some 32 families are known to duet, but we don't really know why. The main features loosly associated with it are (a) it's mostly tropical birds that do it - so many visitors here won't be familiar with the concept except, perhaps, in owls, (b) it's mostly species that show rather little sexual dimorphism (like the barbets here) and (c) most of them live in rather dense habitats - though I think this species is one of the exceptions here. Certainly it's an impressive sight and sound!
|Female Red and Yellow Barbet, Manyara NP, Nov 2010|
Another thing you might notice about this species andthe closely related D'Arnauld's and Usambiro Barbets are their association with termites. Like so many things, these two ground barbets are rather partial to a snack on termites, given the chance, but they also rather like to nest within termite mounds - they dig a hole in the side and the termites will eventually wall their nest up, within the mound - giving lots of the benefits of termite-controlled air-conditioning to ther barbets too. Very handy. Though it might well make them vulnerable to brood parasitism from Greater Honeyguides - a species known to favour barbets and often searching termite nests for nests to parasitise.
Finally, check the toes on the top picture - classic zygodactyly (two toes forward, two backwards), perhaps an indication of their shared ancestry with woodpeckers? (Woodpeckers, Barbets and Honeyguides are all fairly closely related, within the order Piciformes - together with Toucans, but not hornbills which are more closely related to trogons and rollers, etc...).