Fire-tufted Barbet at Fraser’s Hill

The Fire-tufted Barbet (Psilopogon pyrolophus) is a species of barbet found in montane areas in Malaysia, Indonesia and southern Thailand. It is a rather unusual Asian barbet that it has its own genus, and have a proportionally longer tail than the rest. Its name is derived from the prominent red tuft of bristles extending over the base of the bill.

Of course, I knew none of these information when I made my maiden birding trip out of Singapore to Fraser’s Hill, Malaysia back in March 2011. The plan was to go have a family vacation and try to take some bird photos, whatever species they may be.

On the first evening, I explored the area around my hotel. As luck would have it, intermittent rain made me turn back to the hotel. While waiting for it to clear, I saw this green bird perched rather low on an evergreen tree. Without alarming it, I made my way closer. I had a long lens and had to back out to get the bird barely in frame, with the tripod touching the wall of the hotel.

Fire-tufted Barbet
An almost full frame shot of the adult Fire-tufted Barbet, perched low.


Fire-tufted Barbet
A crop shot showing the colourful head, and the red bristles that define its name. Some have mentioned that the more prominent maroon tinge on the crown defines the male1, but I cannot ascertain this.


Fire-tufted Barbet
A more frontal head shot of the same bird, now showing how it could conceivably be seen as emitting sparks of fire from the back of its bill.


This was my one and only encounter with this beautiful bird. Although I have a few more photos of the bird in different poses and perches, the above seems to be the most pleasing.

I hope one day to be back and get yet another closer view and better understanding of this species. Too little is currently known about it.

1. The Birds of the Malay Peninsula, Vol II (Robinson & Chasen)

2 thoughts on “Fire-tufted Barbet at Fraser’s Hill

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