Tag Archives: Barbets

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

Great Barbet

Great Barbet

(Megalaima virens)

(Great Barbet at Sarahan)

Size(32-35cm): It is the largest of all Barbets.

Area: Himalayas except Northern Jammu and Kashmir.

Habitat: They can be found anywhere in the Himalayan region.

My two words: It is a plumpy Barbet with a large yellow bill. It has a glossy bluish-black head. The belly is green and yellow while the back and breast are brown. It also has a red vent. The remaining body is green.

Solitary for most of the time. Both the sexes are alike. The immature birds are also more or less like the adult birds.

They breed in lower and middle Himalayas. They usually nest between April-June. The nest is a hole in a tree where the eggs are laid. Parental duties are done by both the sexes. 

This species of Barbets is found in India and in East till about Laos and Cambodia.

They feed chiefly on fruits and figs but may sometimes feed on insects.

(Great Barbet feeding)

Its call, peeho-peeho, seems like it is mourning over something.

Not a common sighting but also not a rare one.

~Arjun Basandrai

Blue Throated Barbet

Blue Throated Barbet

(Megalaima asiatica)



(Blue Throated Barbet near Palampur)

Size(22-23cm): It is a medium-sized Barbet, a bit smaller than the Brown-Headed Barbet.

Area: Only Himalayas of India, Nepal and Bhutan.

Habitat: They can be found simply anywhere in the Himalayas.

My two words: I cannot call this bird a ‘common sighting’ but at the same place cannot be called ‘rare’. In my 10 year experience, I’ve seen this bird only once or twice.



(Blue Throated Barbet in Taragarh Palace near Palampur)

It is a grass-green Barbet with a blue cheek, throat, and chin. It has some red on the head with some black and yellow. There are small crimson-red spots on the sides of the throat. The bill is bulky and yellowish-grey with a blackish tip.

Solitary or sometimes in pairs. 

The nest is mostly a hole in a tree where the eggs, usually 3-4 in number, are laid.

(Blue Throated Barbet in Taragarh Palace near Palampur)

This species is found only in the Indian Subcontinent. They are purely arboreal and stay on trees whole of their life. Their Conservation Status is ‘LC’ (Least Concern) in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Like other Barbets, they are mostly frugivorous and feed mainly on figs and other fruits but can sometimes take to insects.

~Arjun Basandrai

Brown-Headed Barbet

Brown-Headed Barbet

(Megalaima zeylanicus)

Size(25-28cm): It is a medium sized Barbet and is the most common one in India.

Area: Almost all India except the Himalayas and is replaced by the White-Cheeked Barbet in the Western Ghats.

Habitat: Gardens, parks, forests and anywhere there are trees.

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(Brown Headed Barbet on an Indian Gooseberry tree at my residence in Phillaur, Punjab)

My two words: It is a green and brown Barbet. As the name suggests, the head is brown The neck and some part of the back are also brown. There is a naked orange patch around the eye. Overall plumage is grassy-green. There can be some white streakings on the head. The bill red and quite large and heavy

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(Brown Headed Barbet at Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan)

Mostly solitary but can be seen in pairs as well.

The nest is a hole in a tree where they lay 2-3 eggs.

These species are found only in India. They are quite common around in the cities and have adapted themselves to live close to human inhabitation. These are a species of highly arboreal birds who usually never descend to the ground.

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(Brown Headed Barbet on an Indian Gooseberry tree at my residence in Phillaur, Punjab)

They are mainly frugivorous and feed particularly on bananas, mangoes, papayas, and figs. I have also seen them feeding on guavas and Indian Gooseberry (Amla) at my home.

A common sighting, seen everywhere near to humans.

~Arjun Basandrai

Barbets (Megalaimidae)

Barbets are small to medium-sized, pleasantly fat birds. They have a large head and bill. In comparison with other birds, barbets have a bulky bill. They feed mostly on figs and fruits but can also take to small insects – beetles, locusts, centipedes and even small lizards.

The Great Barbet is the largest of the Barbets. Among the ones we are going to talk here, the smallest Barbet comes out to be the Coppersmith Barbet.

They are an important agent of seed dispersal of plants and trees.

Their nests are holes in trees where 3-4 eggs are laid. Eggs usually take roughly 2 weeks to hatch.

In this section, we are going to talk about 4 species of Barbets found in India:-

1. Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima zeylanicus)

2. Blue-throated Barbet (Megalaima asiaticus)

3. Great Barbet (Megalaima virens)

4. Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala)