1447. Xantholaema hsemacephala lutea

(1447) Xantholaema haemacephala lutea (Lesson).
Xantholaema haemacephala lutea, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iv, p. 128.
The Coppersmith is found over the whole of India with the exception of the extreme North-East in Eastern Bengal and Assam. It is common in Ceylon, except in the wettest areas, but is rare in Sind and the driest areas in the Punjab and Rajputana.
This is one of the most common and best known of our Indian birds, breeding in almost every town and village as well as every¬where else where there are signs of cultivation and civilization. It is not a forest bird, but on rare occasions has been found breeding on the outskirts of thin Sal (Shorea robusta) forest. It ascends the hills of Southern India to about 2,000 feet, and in Travancore, according to Bourdillon, to about 1,500 feet, but in the Himalayas hardly reaches oven these elevations.
The birds seem to have no preference in regard to the tree selected for nesting purposes, though, perhaps, more holes are bored in Mango-trees growing in orchards than in any other. Most nest holes are drilled in horizontal branches, the entrance being on the under-aide, but many are built in vertical branches and in the trunk itself. Always, I think, partially rotten trees are selected which, though the outside is hard and green, has a decayed core. The birds cut a tiny entrance, sometimes little more than 1 inch in diameter, for 2 or 3 inches into the soft interior wood. The tunnel then turns at right angles down the branch or trunk. Sometimes, if the wood is not too rotten, a neat well-smoothed little chamber, 3 inches or so in diameter, is cut out immediately under the entrance but, at other times, when the core is very rotten or there is a natural hollow, the eggs may be deposited 2 or even 3 feet from the entrance. In these cases a new entrance is often added nearer the eggs.
Often an upright stump is chosen for nesting purposes, even when they are completely in the open, while Jerdon and McMaster both record birds making their neat holes in cross-beams in vineries, while Coltart had one made in a semi-rotten verandah beam.
The breeding season is from February to April, but eggs may be taken almost any month of the year. Many birds breed in January and eggs have been taken in that month in Bihar (Coltart and Inglis) ; in Poona (Betham) ; in Deesa (Butler) ; and in the Central Provinces (Blewitt), On the other hand, second broods are often raised after the Rains break in June and July, and eggs have also been taken in September. Three eggs are generally laid, sometimes only two and rarely four.
In shape they are long, sometimes rather elliptical, ovals, quite blunt at the smaller end.
Fifty eggs average 25.0 x17.7 mm. : maxima 28.0 x 17.0 and 27.9 x 18.9 mm. ; minima 23.0 x 17.2 and 24.6 x 15.9 mm.
Both birds work on the excavation. When the entrance is being cut out they work alternately for from five to ten minutes at a time but, when the interior excavation starts, one bird works inside and the other receives and throws away the chips from the entrance, male and female taking turns at the harder interior work.
Both male and female incubate, but the female does most of the day work, while at night both birds frequently sleep in the nest- hole.
The nest-hole is often occupied for many years in succession, though it is constantly deepened and fresh entrances are drilled nearer the eggs each year.
Several writers speak of two pairs of birds breeding in the same branch of a tree, probably in most instances because one of a pair is seen to enter or leave by one hole while the other bird uses another hole. Butler, however, actually took a clutch of eggs and a brood of young within a foot of one another in the same branch.
They sit very close, and will often allow themselves to be moved by hand from the eggs, pecking vigorously and unpleasantly hard all the time.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1447. Xantholaema hsemacephala lutea
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Indian Crimson Brested Barbet
Coppersmith Barbet
Megalaima haemacephala
Vol. 3

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