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I wondered if the Beast might be hungering for something...
TB-0

The Boy retrieves a barrel.

Appearance

Barrels are just that: wooden containers resembling half-barrels in dimensions (about 2.5 feet/.76 meters tall, 1.5 feet/.46 meters across, and a capacity of 15 gallons/56 liters). They seem to be filled with some kind of glowing blue substance that attracts butterflies. They can satiate Trico-beasts with only small amounts for the animal's size.

Usage

I was more than a little surprised. I had not imagined for a moment that the beast could possibly wolf the barrel down whole.
800px-Morpho menelaus huebneri MHNT Male Dos

The morpho menelaus, which looks very similar to the in-game butterfly.

Trico seems unwilling or maybe unable to find food for itself, thus relying on the Boy to procure the barrels for it. On finding the objects, the Boy must pick them up and carry them back to Trico one at a time. Once Trico notices the item, the Boy can set the barrel before Trico, where the beast will devour it, crushing the barrel and swallowing it. The Boy can also throw it the barrel, where, most of the time, Trico will catch and eat it. If Trico does not try to catch it and the barrel hits it, the creature will emit a soft whine.

Barrels can be found in an area by looking for bright blue butterflies resembling the Menelaus blue morpho. If there is one butterfly, that means a barrel is close by. There are more butterflies the closer one gets to a barrel. The butterflies will follow the Boy as he moves the barrel.

History

After the Boy removes the spears from Trico's body, he compassionately decides to feed the injured creature to help it heal faster. While reluctant at first, the beast accepts the kindness. Once freed, the two set off. After this, at different points, Trico will stop, refusing to move again until it is fed a barrel (or sometimes several).

While it is not certain what is in the barrels, they can be seen being made atop the Citadel, where they are given by the Master of the Valley to the Armored Tricos when they bring it children to consume. There are fragments of barrels all over the highest chamber in the Citadel tower.

How to find barrels

While most of the barrels are easy to find, especially the ones required to progress, not all of these collectibles are apparent. Here is a guide to find them all.

SotCFullTemplate
The Game Shadow of the Colossus ( Demo  · Pal Release  · Shadow of the Colossus HD  · PS4)
Characters Wander  · Agro  · Mono  · Dormin  · Emon
The Colossi I  · II  · III  · IV  · V · VI  · VII  · VIII  · IX  · X  · XI  · XII  · XIII  · XIV  · XV  · XVI
Unused Colossi ( Devil  · Griffin  · Monkey  · Phoenix  · Roc  · Sirius  · Spider  · Worm )
Magic Sigil  · Hard Mode
The Forbidden Lands Shadow creaturesSave shrinesFruit treesWhite-tailed lizards

The Shrine of Worship
Umbral GladeStone Arch GorgeDried MarshNorthern SpanDesert FortressMisty FallsRavine EntranceHalf-moon CanyonWestern PlainRound Stone HillLair to the WestStone Bridge CliffCliff PathLair on the MesaWestern CapeArch Bridge PlainBlasted LandsAutumn ForestEastern BluffValley PlainSouthwestern CapeSouthern PlainGreen CapeThe Broken Seal

Soundtrack Roar of the Earth
Walkthrough Time AttackGolden Coins
Other media Nico  · Official artbook/guidebook  · Collectible figurines  · Film adaptation
Giantology campaign
Hoaxes Jebal-Barez skeletonTamil Nadu tsunami giantSulu Sea eel statuePolarneft conspiracySayre family vacation
Characters Eric BelsonCasper ShillingEd GuylerArkady SimkinBoris AtlasovAndrew and Ellie Sayre
Media Giantology podcasts (FirstInterview with Arkady SimkinThirdFourth) • IPICP memo