Coppersmith Barbet

Coppersmith Barbet

(Megalaima haemacephala)

Size(15-18cm): It is the smallest Barbet of India and also maybe the whole world.

Area: All India till about 2500m in Himalayas.

Habitat: Well-wooded forests and gardens.

My two words: It is a small Barbet with crimson-red on forehead, breast, and legs. It has yellow around the eye and also a yellow throat patch. There is some streaking on the underside of the bird. The rest of the plumage is green.

Both the sexes are alike

Solitary in pairs or sometimes even in small groups. It is a Ficus Bird, meaning that it loves to be on Ficus trees.

The nest is a hole in the tree where 2-4 eggs are laid which take about a month to hatch. The juvenile bird lacks the red-crimson patches.

The breeding season is from February to April. The courtship includes lots of interesting dancing and body movements like flicking of the tail, puffing of throat. Another great fact about them is that they may also sometimes roost inside the hole. 

The diet includes figs, berries, insects and I remember once seeing them feed on flower petals. I must say its hunger is perpetual. Daily this bird eats food upto 2-3 times its own weight.

Now we come to why it is named so. Its call is a metallic tuk…tuk…tuk which is similar to the sound produced when a ‘Coppersmith’ beats a piece of metal with his hammer.

It is a common sighting in India. More often heard than seen. I have seen it many times but most of the times I was camera-less. And when I have a camera either we don’t find it or if we find it the light is so low or the bird is too far. In brief, we don’t have quite a bit of luck with this one. It is also called Crimson Breasted Barbet and you can now guess why.

~Arjun Basandrai

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