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  • Aditya Singh

The Colorful World of Barbets – 3: White-Cheeked Barbet

This bird is only found in a narrow range in South India and nowhere else in the world. So far, I have never seen this bird in the dry areas of the region. So, I guess, it restricts its movement to the areas that are green. What could be the reason?? Food? Camouflage?? It really blends well with the green surroundings and can be really difficult to spot if it stays quiet.


White-Cheeked Barbet


This bird is mainly glossy leafy green with a fawn colored head & neck and is necklaced with a brown leaf vein pattern on its chest which borders its plain throat and a broad white eyeliner below the eyes with a finer one above like a white eyebrow.


Having a meal. Note the brown ‘leaf-vein’ pattern…

Like all barbets, it has barbs at the base of its blush peach beak.

In the right season, it calls persistently in several sessions. At this time when the bird is calling, it just perches and calls, perhaps, it takes a lot of lung power and strength to call for such a long time. At other times of the year, it is hardly noticeable because of its camouflage and remains quiet.

They feed mostly on wild berries, fruits and figs, as with all Barbets and also on flower nectar and act as pollinators.


Young one…

They nest in both live and dry branches. On one occasion, I saw a bird which had made a ‘multi-storied’ complex on a dry branch. It could well be a hole for the chicks, one for its partner and one for itself. There was a hole to spare as well.

Or it could be a colony…!


Barbet with its ‘Multi-storied’ nest.

Its location was on a very busy roadside with 24×7 honking cars, buses etc. Though, this nest was close to a lake, the noise made it almost unlivable. So why did it choose this noisy location? Maybe, it was to avoid predators like cats and hundreds of predatory birds that shared the neighborhood.


Rapid deforestation is shrinking this bird’s habitat and making its food scarce. The dry branch with the nests I mentioned above was taken down a couple of days later – to make way for some structures and landscaping near the lake. Too bad…!!

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