Coppersmith barbet is one bird that is easiest to identify. It has a round shade yellow face and throat. The body, light green upper part and dark green streak on pale yellow under part. Then a black stripe across the eye. Another point as to why it is easy to spot and identify, it chooses tallest naked branches of tree to make its unending calls. Also it is seen on electrical wires. On that evening I found this Coppersmith on a naked branch. Light was perfect, it just gave me 2 minutes from the point I spotting the bird to it flying off. So unless you are quick with your camera settings, focus and composition you will miss such a shot. I was using Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L II IS USM + Canon EF 2X III Extender on that day.
The Coppersmith Barbet, Crimson-breasted Barbet or Coppersmith (Megalaima haemacephala), is a bird with crimson forehead and throat which is best known for its metronomic call that has been likened to a coppersmith striking metal with a hammer. It is a resident found in the Indian Subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. Like other barbets, they chisel out a hole inside a tree to build their nest. They are mainly fruit eating but will take sometimes insects, especially winged termites.
This species of barbet is found to overlap in range with several larger barbets in most of South Asia. In the Western Ghats, it partly overlaps with the Malabar Barbet which is of a very similar size but having a more rapid call. The red forehead, yellow eye-ring and throat patch with streaked underside and green upperparts, it is fairly distinctive. Juveniles are duller and lack the red patches. The sexes are alike. The Sri Lankan form has more black on the face, more red on the breast and darker streaks on the underside.
During the nesting season, the wear and tear on the feathers can cause the plumage of the upper back to appear bluish. Throughout their wide range they are found in gardens, groves and sparse woodland. Habitats with trees having dead wood suitable for excavation is said to be important. Birds nest and roost in cavities. Keeps solitary, pairs, or small groups; larger parties occasionally on abundantly fruiting Ficus trees. Fond of sunning themselves in the morning on bare top branches of tall trees, often flitting about to sit next to each other. The flight is straight, with rapid flaps.
They compete with other cavity nesting birds and frugivores. Megalaima asiatica have been noted to evict them from their nest holes, while Red-vented Bulbuls have been seen to indulge in kleptoparasitism, robbing the male of berries brought to the female at the nest. The nest holes are also used for roosting and some birds roost alone in cavities and these often roost during part of the day. Immatures will roost with the parents but often return to roost early so as not to be prevented by the parents from entering the roost cavity.
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 108 to 121 per minute and can continue with as many as 204 notes. They are silent and do not call in winter. 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 and the head is bobbed.
EXIF info – Aperture : ƒ/5.6 | Camera : Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Taken : 7 April, 2013 | Exposure bias : +1.7EV | Flash fired : no | Focal length : 600mm | ISO : 200 | Location : 12° 55.3451′ 0″ N 74° 51.989′ 0″ E | Shutter speed : 1/200s | Images and content Copyright © Krishna Mohan. Please contact me to purchase prints or for image publication license.