At 33cm - it is one of the largest Barbets. These beautiful birds are fairly common - but hopping from one place to another - it is not so common to see till you decide to look out for them. They surely cannot be classified as shy by any means. Asia has tons of barbets and India has 11 of them. There are visits to Morni, Chakki Modh or the lower hills around Chandigarh and on some days you see so many of them that you stop counting and on the other days you keep your eyes glued to every move and fail to catch a single glimpse of these beautiful birds.
I tried to do count the number of colours that I could pick up in the Great Barbet. Let's see - the colours counted may not appeal to ladies - but to me we have blue, black, green, yellow, red, brown. This bird seems fairly dull till you spare a little time to stare at it. Well this is not what I wanted to really share, it was a fight of superiority that I happened to witness. On one of our birding trips we saw this tree with these brown coloured berry like fruit where we saw not less than a dozen Great Barbets feasting. Suddenly one of them that flew and another one that was sitting near to it flew - following that bird. I found it interesting and followed those birds - some 100 yards further down the road. What I saw was clearly a fight amongst the two of them.
The first thing that was noticed was a lot of slow tap dance sort of steps with both swaying too and fro. The noises were also a little agressive. Infact I do remember almost taking it as a mating ritual. During this period some more birds flew in to perhaps withness the fight and the aggressiveness of both the bird grew - it was now that I told myself - mating ritual - no way !!
Next without giving me a warning the birds had each other's beak and were now clearly struggling and trying to get each other's head down.
The fight lasted full 15-20 seconds long and the winner was declared - or so I thought. One of the birds freed the beak and off it flew - there was a lot of ruckus created - akin to chest beating by the one that perhaps won the fight. No other bird did anything other than - fly back to the tree with the brown fruits and started the supper before the night fell and all became quite.
Their behaviour, the fight and the declaration of the winner was such a neat affair, no blood bath, no ruckus other than the bird that was proud of itself. I stood there transfixed for a long time before - packing my stuff and moving on - it was time for me to call off the birding - a long day came to an end with such action packed finale...