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A photo of a Coppersmith Barbet (Psilopogon haemacephalus)
Coppersmith Barbet

Coppersmith Barbet

Psilopogon haemacephalus

The Coppersmith Barbet, known scientifically as Psilopogon haemacephalus, is a small, vibrant bird with a striking appearance. It is characterized by its green plumage, crimson forehead, and throat, with yellow cheeks and a yellow throat. The underparts are adorned with streaks of grey and black. During the nesting season, the upper back may take on a bluish hue due to feather wear. This bird measures between 15–17 cm in length and weighs between 30–52.6 g.

Identification Tips

To identify the Coppersmith Barbet, look for its distinctive red head and the rhythmic, metallic call that it is named after. The combination of its green body, red and yellow head, and streaked underparts make it unmistakable in its native habitat.

Habitat

The Coppersmith Barbet is found in gardens, groves, and sparse woodlands, favoring areas with dead wood suitable for nest excavation.

Distribution

This species is a resident bird across the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. It is commonly found in the valleys of the outer Himalayas up to 910 m and below 1,200 m in the Palni Hills. Its range overlaps with larger barbets in South Asia and partially with the Malabar barbet in the Western Ghats.

Behaviour

The Coppersmith Barbet is typically solitary or found in small groups. It enjoys basking in the sun during the morning and has a straight flight with rapid flaps. It competes with other cavity-nesting birds and is known to be territorial.

Song & Calls

The bird's call is a loud, metallic "tuk…tuk…tuk," similar to the sound of a coppersmith hammering metal. The call, which can continue for extended periods, is produced by inflating and collapsing a patch of bare skin on the throat, with the beak remaining shut.

Breeding

Breeding behaviors include singing, throat puffing, head bobbing, tail flicking, ritual feeding, and allopreening. The Coppersmith Barbet nests in cavities, which are excavated by both sexes on the underside of narrow horizontal branches. The female typically lays three to four eggs, and both parents share incubation duties.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Coppersmith Barbet is predominantly frugivorous, with a preference for banyan, peepul, and other wild figs, as well as various drupes, berries, and occasionally insects such as winged termites. It also consumes flower petals and can eat up to three times its body weight in berries each day.

Conservation status

The Coppersmith Barbet is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. It faces threats from predation by larger birds, collisions with structures in urban areas, and pesticide poisoning.

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