Coppersmith Barbet

The Coppersmith Barbet (Psilopogonhae macephalus) owes it’s nomenclature to its metronomic call, similar to the sound of a coppersmith striking metal with hammer.

Sometime in 2019, a chef from the cooking department at the Marine Institute in Nhava Sheva, had rescued an injured bird. It had injuries on its leg and was struggling. The chef, requiring help to care for the little creature, informed me since I am a bird lover. I was delighted to discover a beautiful bird, one which I had never come across earlier. It was a small one, with a vivid coloration of red, yellow and green.

I was ecstatic to discover that this was none other than a Coppersmith barbet. This bird was frantic due to its injuries which prevented movement, requiring immediate treatment. The chef and I applied ointment on its legs and kept it caged for 2-3 days and regularly applied medicine, until it began to feel better.

The Coppersmith barbet is also known as crimson-breasted barbet. The reason why it is called Coppersmith barbet is because the sound of its call is very similar to that of a coppersmith striking a metal with a hammer. At times it is very difficult to sight the barbet because its color gets camouflaged  by the green of a tree’s foliage. The bright red path on its forehead, similar to a teeka,reminds of the bright red beautiful ficus fruits of the banyan tree in its green backdrop.

Barbets feed mainly on small fruits but also at times feed on butterfly or small flying insects like winged termites.

The breeding season is from January to June but the male starts its preparation from December. He feeds the female a banyan fruit, thereby strengthening their bond. Courting includes singing, throat-puffing and preening.

One must have spotted a hole or cavity in some dried up banyan tree or Indian silk cotton tree, that is the Coppersmith barbet’s nest. The identification between male and female is quite simple;the male has a slight mustache which helps the male to sense the diameter of the hole. The nest is always made on the under side of the branches to prevent the birds of prey from spotting it and also protects it from rain.


About the Author /

Sylvester Alphonso has worked as faculty in the Bureau of Maritime affairs, Gulf Coast training technologies and Great Eastern as marine instructor. He is passionate about nature and conservation, as well as birding and photography. He has won several awards including those for owning the highest collection of CDs and DVDs and the highest collection of photographs, India Book of Records, 2012.


  • Nirupa Ramanna

    July 10, 2020


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