Gilded Barbets

The Gilded Barbets (Capito auratus) is a species of bird in the Capitonidae family, the barbets, and are close relatives of the toucans.

It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, in the Orinoco River Basin and western Amazon Basin.

It was formerly considered a subspecies of the Black-spotted Barbet from north-eastern South America.

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Distribution / Range

Its natural habitats are tropical moist lowland forests (especially Terra Firme) and woodland. It mainly occurs in lowlands, but also ranges into the lower foothills of the east Andes.

Western Amazon Basin and Orinoco range

The Gilded Barbet ranges in the eastern Andes drainages to the rivers of the western Amazon Basin from eastern Colombia-Venezuela, eastern Ecuador, from north to southeastern Peru, and northern Bolivia; in Bolivia the Barbet only ranges on the headwater tributaries to the northeasterly flowing Madeira River.

The eastern limit in the southwest Amazon Basin is the Purus River west of the Madeira.

Gilded Barbet (Capito auratus) - Immature male top, adult male below

In the northwest Amazon Basin, the eastern range limit is central Roraima state Brazil, the south flowing Branco River. The contiguous range to the northwest into Venezuela is all of eastern Venezuela approaching the Guyana border.

The Gilded Barbet’s range is on the eastern side of the Caribbean north-flowing Orinoco River drainage, but avoids the lower-half riverine strip by 150 km; the range occurs on the upper-half of the Orinoco River extending south into the eastern border area of Colombia.

A small range extension goes southeastwards into central Bolivia, which are also tributary areas to the Madeira River.


It has a total length of c. 20 cm (8 in).

As other barbets, the Gilded Barbet is a thickset, relatively large-headed bird with a stubby bill. The upperparts, tail, wings and mask are mainly black. The spotty bar over the greater wing coverts (feathers), narrow edging to the remiges (longest flight feathers) and tips to the tertials (= the flight feathers that are closest to the bird’s body along the wing) are yellow.

Additionally, the narrow yellow eyebrows extends as two parallel lines over the mantle. The belly is mainly pale yellow with black streaking to the flanks.

Depending on subspecies, the throat ranges from red to orange, and the crown ranges from deep yellow over brownish-orange to reddish-orange.

The female resembles the male, but with extensive orange-yellow edging to the wing-coverts, yellowish streaking to the auriculars and back, and the black streaking of the flanks also extending over the chest. In females from the westernmost part of its range (subspecies punctatus), the throat is streaked black.

Both sexes have dark maroon irises, greyish legs and a broadly black-tipped grey bill.

Gilded Barbet (Capito auratus)

Diet / Feeding

It is largely frugivorous (fruit eaters).

Gilded Barbet (Capito auratus)


Gilded Barbet (Capito auratus)
Photo of author

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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