The observation which I am narrating now is of February 1977 and related to the courtship and mating behavior of Barbets. My bird watching hobby had just begun in the sprawling campus of Mysore University. The campus was better wooded in between the buildings with least amount of human disturbance.
The whole place reverberated with the almost incessant Tuk-Tuk calls as well as Kutruk – Kutruk calls of these two types of barbets. I was keenly observing a Rain tree which was almost bare. As I was watching a Coppersmith Barbet flew in and sat on the fork of a branch. It appeared to be a juvenile eagerly waiting for the mother who would feed it. This bird was restlessly shaking its lowered wings as a juvenile would do and very soon there arrived another Coppersmith holding a ripe fig and sat on small twig which evidently served as a perch. The first bird became more agitated and continued to beat its wings vigorously and at the same time crouched itself and looking at the second bird which had just alighted. Only then it occurred to me that the first bird was a female and not a juvenile. The second bird was evidently a male Coppersmith which had just arrived with the ripe fig in its beak. Soon the second bird (Male) mated with the receptive female and only after the act was over, it gave the female the fig, as if as a reward for the favour and flew away.
Pic: Coppersmith (PC: CS Kulashekar)
Similarly behavior was observed in White-cheeked Barbet after few days in the same location. During next four decades of birding similar courtship and mating behavior was observed in all forms of birds with little alterations like, there won’t be parting gift, or will take place on ground in case of terrestrial birds or on water in case of water birds.
Author: KB Sadananda