Blue-throated Barbet Psilopogon asiaticus Scientific name definitions

Anand Krishnan
Version: 2.0 — Published April 21, 2023


Systematics History

The Blue-throated Barbet was originally placed in the genus Cyanops, which was then synonymized with Megalaima (9) where it remained until phylogenetic studies indicated that Psilopogon is embedded within Megalaima (10). As Psilopogon has priority, this has resulted in the genus Megalaima being subsumed into Psilopogon. Blue-throated Barbet has previously been considered conspecific with the Turquoise-throated Barbet (Psilopogon chersonesus) and the Mountain Barbet (Psilopogon monticola) (11), but molecular data confirm these species' distinctiveness (10).

Geographic Variation

Information needed. The variable red specks in the malar region at the base of the bill possibly show some geographic variation - Biswas (12) noted them as most prominent in birds from Assam and Myanmar, and less prominent or absent in Nepal. Intermediates between nominate asiaticus and subspecies davisoni may occur - e.g. in northernmost Thailand (13).


Two subspecies recognized (14).


Blue-throated Barbet (Red-crowned) Psilopogon asiaticus asiaticus Scientific name definitions

Systematics History

Trogon asiaticus Latham, 1790, Index ornithologicus 1 p. 201.—Type locality: India (15).


Cyanops rubescens Baker, 1896, Novitates Zoologicae 3(3) p. 257.—Type locality: Cachar Hills (16). Some individuals of Blue-throated Barbet exhibit erythrism, with variable red on the back, over the wing coverts, and on the breast (see Plumages: Aberrant Plumages). Baker (16) described these as a separate species, and believed them to be restricted to high elevations (> 4000 ft [= 1219 m]) in the North Cachar Hills. However, these individuals are now known to be more widespread, and are recognized as color variants of the nominate subspecies with rubescens being considered invalid (1).


Northeastern Pakistan east along the Himalayas to northern Myanmar and south central China (western Yunnan), south to Bangladesh and central Myanmar.

Identification Summary

Described under Plumages.


Blue-throated Barbet (Blue-crowned) Psilopogon asiaticus davisoni Scientific name definitions

Systematics History

Megalaima Davisoni Hume, 1877, Stray Feathers 5 p. 108.—Type Locality: Meetan, Tenasserim Central Hills (17).


Cyanops davisoni laurentii Wells, 1923, Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 43: p. 174.—Type Locality: Yuen Chang, Yunnan. Described by Wells as similar to davisoni but slightly duller, slightly longer wings (given as 101–105 mm vs 95–100 mm), and a shorter stouter bill. Short and Horne (1) also describe it as having a very slightly narrower blue crown band, but consider the overall differences too minor to warrant recognition as a separate subspecies.


Southeastern Myanmar and south central China (southeastern Yunnan) east to Guangxi (China), and south to southwestern Thailand, central Laos, and northern Vietnam.

Identification Summary

Differs from the nominate subspecies P. a. asiaticus in possessing a blue rather than black forecrown band, with less yellow in the red forehead just anterior to this, and a narrow blue stripe separating the red hindcrown from the black outer border. The blue in the head is overall slightly paler. This subspecies may show some slight sexual dimorphism, with females lacking the small red mark on the anterior base of the malar region (1).

Related Species

Originally considered closely allied to Black-browed Barbet (Psilopogon oorti), Chinese Barbet (Psilopogon faber), Moustached Barbet (Psilopogon incognitus), and Golden-throated Barbet (Psilopogon franklinii) (18). Molecular phylogenies indicate a close relationship to the Indochinese Barbet (Psilopogon annamensis), with these two species being sister to the Black-browed Barbet (Psilopogon oorti) and the Turquoise-throated Barbet (Psilopogon chersonesus) (19, 10). The relationships of different populations within Southeast Asia require further investigation, and may lead to the identification of more cryptic diversification within this group. The four species as a whole are sister to a clade containing the Taiwan Barbet (Psilopogon nuchalis), Chinese Barbet (Psilopogon faber), and Moustached Barbet (Psilopogon incognitus) (10). This entire complex of species as a whole deserves more detailed molecular and ecological study.


Not recorded (20), but mixed pairs of Blue-throated Barbet and Moustached Barbet have been reported in the wild (21).

Fossil History

The only fossil barbet known is Capitonides europeus from the Miocene of southern Germany, likely related to the Lybiidae (22, 23, 24).

Recommended Citation

Krishnan, A. (2023). Blue-throated Barbet (Psilopogon asiaticus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (N. D. Sly, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.bltbar2.02