Coppersmith Barbet – juvenile calls

on 18th May 2019
Adult feeding chick at the nest.

“I have been hearing new calls of the Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala indicus) in the neighbourhood and recognised that they were juvenile. I have been observing a nesting pair that were using the dead branch of a Payong Tree (Payung Sumatra – Hura crepitans, also called Sandbox tree), approximately 3.5 meters up. I have avoided frequent or prolonged observations as twice I had spotted other birds at the nest site, apparently trying to get at the juveniles – a pair of Common Mynas (Acridotheres tristis tristis) and an Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis strigata). The Coppersmith Barbet parents were distressed by their presence and attempted to dislodge them by ‘buzzing’ them (I had to help with the Mynas).


“The juvenile(s) make this their call throughout the day with peaks in the morning and evening. Even while writing this at 2pm I can intermittently hear them calling out. These calls are very unlike the food-begging calls of other juveniles. They are rhythmic and akin to adult calls/song. The calls have a regular rhythm at a rate of 3.3 calls per second (source: 4 recordings of more than 2 minutes). The calls are ~0.1 seconds in duration and the space between them ~0.2 seconds. Most of the calls are two notes in rapid succession (see sonogram-waveform above), but occasionally only a single note was used.

“I wonder if this is two juveniles versus one calling out? (I am unaware of how many are in the nest). The calls will accelerate in tempo when parents arrive with food and then stops briefly. Calls can be made for long durations of 5-15 minutes. Wells (1999) states that “juveniles begin to sing” before acquiring adult plumage. HBW (22019) says “young beg with ‘tuk-tuk’ calls”.

“An edited recording of some calls is available HERE. At the end of this recording the parent arrives, there is sudden ‘jerk’ and call stop for feeding.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
24th March 2019

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Urban environment

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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