Endemic birds
Endemic bird

Ceylon Small Barbet    Megalaima rubricapillus
(Crimson fronted Barbet)


Sinhalese - Mal Kottoruwa
Tamil       - Sinna-Kukuruwan

Ceylon Small Barbet

This is a small sparrow-sized barbet of striking colouration. However, in spite of its facial colouration of red, orange-yellow, blue, black and green, it often blends inconspicuously with the dense foliage of its preferred habitat. If not for the bird’s characteristic calls of pop-op-op-op-op utteredrepetitiously from a prominent bare twig, it would often go unnoticed. At times the bird utters a slow wok, wok, wok call somewhat reminiscent of that of its relative, the similarly sized Crimson-breasted Barbet. The Ceylon Small Barbet lives in pairs, but where food is plentiful such as near a fruiting banyan, flocks congregate to feed on the succulent berries. It is a fruit eater, though young are periodically fed on animal matter such as grasshoppers, moths, at the nest, no doubt to keep their protein requirements fulfilled.

The Ceylon Small Barbet is widely distributed in the low country wet zone and up to the mid hills. It occurs but sparingly in some localities of the dry zone. It is a bird of well wooded country including forest. However, it is not uncommon in well populated towns either, being the only endemic that can be observed in the heart of Colombo.

This barbet nests in a tree hole dug by the birds themselves. In keeping with its size the branch chosen is a narrow one. Most often the entrance is located on the underside of an angled branch. The height may vary from a couple of metres to ten metres or more. Generally two or three white eggs are laid. The incubation period is only about two weeks though the young remain in the nest for at least five weeks. They are coloured mostly dull green all over, with some pale yellow on the face. The breeding season is from about January to June.



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