Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Coppersmith barbet

Thai: นกตีทอง, nok tee thong

Binomial name: Psilopogon haemacephalus, Statius Muller, 1776

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.

Description

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.

Within the Old World Megalaima barbets, they are found to be basal in phylogenetic analyses. Most of the remaining Asian species are more recent in their divergence and speciation.

Habitat and distribution

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.

In the Palni Hills of southern India it is said to occur below 4000 feet. In the Himalayas it is found mainly in the valleys of the outer Himalayas up to 3000 feet. They are rare in the dry desert zones and the very wet forests.

Behaviour and ecology

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.

Vocalization

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.

Diet

Prefers Banyan, Peepul, and other wild figs, various drupes and berries, and the occasional insect, caught in aerial sallies. Petals of flowers may also be included in their diet. They eat nearly 1.5 to nearly 3 times their body weight in berries each day.

Breeding

Courtship involves singing, puffing of the throat, bobbing of the head, flicking of the tail, ritual feeding and allopreening.

They breed through much of the year with local variation. The breeding season is mainly February to April in India and December to September in Sri Lanka. Both sexes excavate the nest on the underside of a narrow horizontal branch. They may also roost inside the nest holes. Three or four eggs are laid and like in many hole nesting birds the incubation period is not well known but has been estimated to be about 2 weeks. Both sexes incubate. Often two broods are raised in quick succession.

Mortality factors

Adult birds are sometimes taken by predatory species. In urban areas, there are records of collisions with structures including white walls. Pesticide poisoning has also been noted.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Piciformes
Family
Megalaimidae
Genus
Psilopogon
Species
Psilopogon haemacephalus

Common names

  • Thai: นกตีทอง, nok tee thong

Subspecies

  • Megalaima haemacephala cebuensis, Victoria M. Dziadosz & Kenneth Carroll Parkes, 1984

    Range: Cebu

  • Megalaima haemacephala celestinoi, Ernest Thomas Gilliard, 1949

    Range: Catanduanes, Biliran, Samar, Leyte

  • Megalaima haemacephala delica, Carl Parrot, 1907

    Range: Sumatra

  • Megalaima haemacephala haemacephala (nominate), Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller, 1776

    Range: Found in the Islands of the Luzon and Mindoro in the Philippines

  • Megalaima haemacephala homochroa, Victoria M. Dziadosz & Kenneth Carroll Parkes, 1984

    Range: Tablas

  • Megalaima haemacephala indica, John Aubrey Clarendon Latham, 1790

    Range: Found in the Indian subcontinent form northeastern Pakistan and extends into Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Several former supspecies from India are synonymized into indica.

  • Megalaima haemacephala intermedia, George Ernest Shelley, 1891

    Range: Panay, Guimaras, Negros

  • Megalaima haemacephala mindanensis, Austin Loomer Rand, 1948

    Range: Mindanao

  • Megalaima haemacephala rosea, Charles Dumont de Sainte-Croix, 1816

    Range: Java

Synonyms

  • Xantholaema haemacephala
  • Bucco indicus
  • Megalaima haemacephala

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Coppersmith barbet, Psilopogon haemacephalus in Thailand
  • Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram
  • Ao Phang-Nga National Park
  • Ban Bueng District, Chonburi
  • Ban Chang District, Rayong
  • Ban Laem District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Lat District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Phai District, Khon Kaen
  • Ban Pho District, Chachoengsao
  • Ban Sang District, Prachinburi
  • Bang Kruai District, Nonthaburi
  • Bang Lamung District, Chonburi
  • Bang Len District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Bang Pa In District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Pahan District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Phra Non-hunting Area
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Bangkok Province
  • Borabue District, Maha Sarakham
  • Bueng Boraped Non-hunting Area
  • Chaiya District, Surat Thani
  • Chaloem Phra Kiat District, Saraburi
  • Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park
  • Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai
  • Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chiang Khong District, Chiang Rai
  • Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai
  • Doi Chong National Park
  • Doi Inthanon National Park
  • Doi Lo District, Chiang Mai
  • Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park
  • Doi Saket District, Chiang Mai
  • Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
  • Doi Tao District, Chiang Mai
  • Dong Kheng Forest Park
  • Erawan National Park
  • Fang District, Chiang Mai
  • Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Hang Chat District, Lampang
  • Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
  • Hat Wanakon National Park
  • Hat Yai District, Songkhla
  • Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Huai Krachao District, Kanchanaburi
  • Huai Nam Dang National Park
  • Huai Talat Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • In Buri District, Sing Buri
  • Kabin Buri District, Prachinburi
  • Kaeng Khoi District, Saraburi
  • Kaeng Krachan District, Phetchaburi
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Kamphaeng Saen District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Kanthararom District, Sisaket
  • Kantharawichai District, Maha Sarakham
  • Kaset Sombun District, Chaiyaphum
  • Khanom District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Khiao - Khao Chomphu Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Kradong Forest Park
  • Khao Laem National Park
  • Khao Laem Ya National Park
  • Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park
  • Khao Luang National Park
  • Khao Phra - Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Khao Sanam Prieng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khao Yoi District, Phetchaburi
  • Khlong Hoi Khong District, Songkhla
  • Khlong Luang District, Pathum Thani
  • Khlong Nakha Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khlong Phanom National Park
  • Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khok Sung District, Sa Kaeo
  • Khon San District, Chaiyaphum
  • Khuan Khanun District, Phatthalung
  • Khun Chae National Park
  • Khun Tan District, Chiang Rai
  • Khung Kraben Non-hunting Area
  • Khura Buri District, Phang Nga
  • Klaeng District, Rayong
  • Ko Phayam
  • Ko Samui District, Surat Thani
  • Ko Sichang District, Chonburi
  • Ko Tao
  • Kui Buri National Park
  • Kumphawapi District, Udon Thani
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Laem Son National Park
  • Lam Nam Kok National Park
  • Lan Sang National Park
  • Mae Ai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai
  • Mae Fa Luang District, Chiang Rai
  • Mae Ping National Park
  • Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Wong National Park
  • Mu Ko Chang National Park
  • Mu Ko Lanta National Park
  • Mu Ko Samet National Park
  • Mu Ko Similan National Park
  • Muak Lek District, Saraburi
  • Mueang Buriram District, Buriram
  • Mueang Chachoengsao District, Chachoengsao
  • Mueang Chaiyaphum District, Chaiyaphum
  • Mueang Chanthaburi District, Chanthaburi
  • Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai
  • Mueang Chonburi District, Chonburi
  • Mueang Chumphon District, Chumphon
  • Mueang Kalasin District, Kalasin
  • Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi
  • Mueang Khon Kaen District, Khon Kaen
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Mueang Lamphun District, Lamphun
  • Mueang Lopburi District, Lopburi
  • Mueang Maha Sarakham District, Maha Sarakham
  • Mueang Nakhon Nayok District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Mueang Nakhon Pathom District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Mueang Nakhon Ratchasima District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Mueang Nakhon Si Thammarat District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Mueang Nan District, Nan
  • Mueang Nong Khai District, Nong Khai
  • Mueang Nonthaburi District, Nonthaburi
  • Mueang Pan District, Lampang
  • Mueang Pathum Thani District, Pathum Thani
  • Mueang Pattani District, Pattani
  • Mueang Phang Nga District, Phang Nga
  • Mueang Phatthalung District, Phatthalung
  • Mueang Phayao District, Phayao
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Phichit District, Phichit
  • Mueang Phitsanulok District, Phitsanulok
  • Mueang Phuket District, Phuket
  • Mueang Prachinburi District, Prachinburi
  • Mueang Ratchaburi District, Ratchaburi
  • Mueang Rayong District, Rayong
  • Mueang Sa Kaeo District, Sa Kaeo
  • Mueang Samut Sakhon District, Samut Sakhon
  • Mueang Saraburi District, Saraburi
  • Mueang Satun District, Satun
  • Mueang Sisaket District, Sisaket
  • Mueang Songkhla District, Songkhla
  • Mueang Sukhothai District, Sukhothai
  • Mueang Suphanburi District, Suphan Buri
  • Mueang Surat Thani District, Surat Thani
  • Mueang Tak District, Tak
  • Mueang Udon Thani District, Udon Thani
  • Nam Nao National Park
  • Namtok Mae Surin National Park
  • Namtok Sam Lan National Park
  • Non Sang District, Nong Bua Lamphu
  • Nong Bong Khai Non-hunting Area
  • Nong Han Lake
  • Nong Prue District, Kanchanaburi
  • Nong Song Hong District, Khon Kaen
  • Nong Suea District, Pathum Thani
  • Nong Thung Thong Non-hunting Area
  • Nong Ya Plong District, Phetchaburi
  • Ob Khan National Park
  • Pa Sang District, Lamphun
  • Pai District, Mae Hong Son
  • Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pak Kret District, Nonthaburi
  • Pak Phli District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Pak Thale
  • Pak Tho District, Ratchaburi
  • Pak Thong Chai District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pang Sida National Park
  • Pha Daeng National Park
  • Pha Hin Ngam National Park
  • Pha Nam Yoi Forest Park
  • Phan District, Chiang Rai
  • Phanat Nikhom District, Chonburi
  • Phatthana Nikhom District, Lopburi
  • Phimai District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pho Prathap Chang District, Phichit
  • Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Phu Chong Na Yoi National Park
  • Phu Foi Lom National Park
  • Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park
  • Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Phu Pha Thoep National Park
  • Phu Sa Dok Bua National Park
  • Phu Soi Dao National Park
  • Phu Suan Sai National Park
  • Phu Wiang National Park
  • Phunphin District, Surat Thani
  • Phutthamonthon District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Pran Buri District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Pran Buri Forest Park
  • Ramkhamhaeng National Park
  • Sai Noi District, Nonthaburi
  • Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi
  • Sai Yok National Park
  • Sakaerat Environmental Research Station
  • Salak Pra Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Salawin National Park
  • Samae San Island
  • Samut Prakan Province
  • San Kala Khiri National Park
  • San Sai District, Chiang Mai
  • Sanam Bin Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Sanam Chai Khet District, Chachoengsao
  • Santi Suk District, Nan
  • Sathing Phra District, Songkhla
  • Sattahip District, Chonburi
  • Satuek District, Buriram
  • Sawi District, Chumphon
  • Si Racha District, Chonburi
  • Si Satchanalai District, Sukhothai
  • Si Sawat District, Kanchanaburi
  • Si Thep District, Phetchabun
  • Sirinat National Park
  • Sri Nakarin Dam National Park
  • Sri Phang-nga National Park
  • Takua Pa District, Phang Nga
  • Taphan Hin District, Phichit
  • Tha Sala District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Tha Takiap District, Chachoengsao
  • Tha Yang District, Phetchaburi
  • Thai Mueang District, Phang Nga
  • Thalang District, Phuket
  • Thale Noi Non-hunting Area
  • Tham Pratun Non-hunting Area
  • Than Sadet - Koh Pha-Ngan National Park
  • Thanyaburi District, Pathum Thani
  • Thao Kosa Forest Park
  • Thap Lan National Park
  • Thong Pha Phum District, Kanchanaburi
  • Thong Pha Phum National Park
  • Thung Salaeng Luang National Park
  • Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Wang Chan District, Rayong
  • Wat Phai Lom & Wat Ampu Wararam Non-hunting Area
  • Wat Tham Erawan Non-hunting Area
  • Wiang Kaen District, Chiang Rai
  • Yan Ta Khao District, Trang

Range map of Psilopogon haemacephalus in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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