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Crimson breasted Barbet | by Umang Dutt
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Crimson breasted Barbet

The Coppersmith Barbet or Crimson-breasted Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala), is a bird with crimson forehead and neck. It is a resident near passerine bird from South Asia, with occasional presence in Southeast Asia. The name barbet refers to the bristles or barbs fringing its heavy bill. It may sometimes be referred to simply as Coppersmith.

 

The Coppersmith is brightly coloured, with a black-bordered yellow face with black eye stripes, red forecrown and throat patch. Bill stout and dark. Upper parts are grass green and underparts yellowish-green, diffusely streaked with darker green. Juveniles are duller and lack the red patches. The sexes are alike.

 

Somewhat larger than a sparrow, it is a relatively small barbet at 17 cm. It is a plump bird, with a short neck and large head. The short, truncated tail is distinctively triangular in flight .

 

The call is a loud rather metallic tuk…tuk…tuk (or tunk), reminiscent of a copper sheet being beaten, giving the bird its name. Repeated monotonously for long periods, starting with a subdued tuk and building up to an even volume and tempo, the latter varying from 1.5 to 2 per second.

 

The beak remains shut during each call - a patch of bare skin on both sides of the throat inflates and collapses with each tuk like a rubber bulb, with much body and tail shaking. Not very vocal in cold weather - a spell of rain or cold immediately silences them, but it is "one of India's most familiar sounds in the hot season"

 

Local names: Hindi: chhoTA vasant, Bengali: chhoTo basanta, bhAgirath, Gujarati: TukTukiyo Sinhala: mal kottoruwA Tamil: sinna kukuruvAn).

 

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Taken on March 11, 2009