Did you know that Mumbai has its own dedicated ‘city bird’?
You might think that this title has been given to the common crow or the blue rock pigeon or maybe even to the house sparrow; because these are birds that Mumbaikars come across all the time. But what if I tell you that none of the above hold the coveted title of being our 'city bird'?
The city bird of Mumbai is the Coppersmith Barbet and it is also known as the Crimson-breasted Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala). This bird is more often heard than seen and it is known to make a monotonous call that goes like, tuk-tuk-tuk. The call resembles a coppersmith repeatedly hitting a copper sheet and this is how it gets its name. The Coppersmith Barbet is also known to make an early morning call to welcome the sunrise. Haven't you heard this call in your locality?
Coppersmith Barbets can be found near wooded areas, gardens and possibly even in the greener patches around your residence. They often inhabit older trees, wherein they utilize the cavities to build nests and to roost. They are known to feed on flowers, fruits and occasionally on insects too. And another interesting fact about this bird is that it can consume up to 3 times its own body weight for a day’s meal!
At first glance, the Coppersmith Barbet appears to be almost the size of a sparrow with a greenish plumage that helps it easily camouflage against trees, but at closer inspection we get to see a prominent red forehead, yellow colored eye-ring and throat patch with streaks in the underside. Both the males and females look alike, but the younger ones are paler in comparison and they lack the red patch in their foreheads. Barbets in general are closely related to the woodpeckers.
Some of the factors that have caused the population of this bird to decline recently are human encroachment, increasing population levels and also the use of pesticides (as it feeds on fruits). But with some amount of awareness and support we can easily help in conserving this wonderful bird. For starters, you can look out for the Barbet the next time you visit your local garden and then make sure that the trees in which it nests and feeds are not harmed or cut down without any reason.
So if you haven’t got a glimpse of this bird yet, hope you get one soon!!
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