Yo’, Marty! Barbets Don’t Live in Japan

Editor’s note: The hollow, repetitive calls of barbets in the genus Psilopogon (above) are a familiar background sound in tropical and subtropical Asia. In Japan, however, the sounds of barbets are never heard, a point that may have eluded famed director Martin Scorsese.

by Craig Brelsford
Founder, shanghaibirding.com

I recently saw Scorsese’s Silence. At various points in the film, Taiwan Barbet Psilopogon nuchalis is audible in the background, even though the story takes place around Nagasaki.

Here is a snippet from Silence in which the barbets are particularly loud.

Silence was filmed in Taiwan. Scorsese probably was aware of the barbet sounds and left them in for a wild feel. Too bad barbets don’t occur on Kyushu or anywhere in Japan.

Can someone let Marty know?

(FICTIONAL) UPDATE: I got in touch with Marty! Here’s how the conversation went:

BRELSFORD: Yo’, Marty, you got the wrong birds in the wrong place in Silence. You really oughta take us birders into consideration.

SCORSESE: You talkin’ to me?

Featured photo, clockwise from top left: Blue-throated Barbet Psilopogon asiaticus, Yunnan; Chinese Barbet P. faber, Hainan; Golden-throated Barbet P. franklinii, Yunnan; and Taiwan Barbet P. nuchalis, Taiwan. (Craig Brelsford)

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