Family Asian Barbets (Megalaimidae)

Least Concern

Brown-headed Barbet (Psilopogon zeylanicus)


French: Barbu à tête brune German: Braunkopf-Bartvogel Spanish: Barbudo cabecipardo

Bucco Zeylanicus

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,

Sri Lanka


Thought to be closely related to P. lineatus, and often treated as conspecific in the past, but no apparent hybridization in narrow area of sympatry in N India and SW Nepal. Possibly related also to P. faiostrictus and P. viridis, but not very closely. W Himalayan birds (Kangra E to Garhwal) previously recognized as race kangrae, but now considered inseparable from caniceps. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. z. caniceps (Franklin, 1831) – S Nepal#R and N India (Punjab and Uttar Pradesh S to N Maharashtra, Odisha and Bihar).
  • P. z. inornatus (Walden, 1870) – CW & SW India (Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka).
  • P. z. zeylanicus (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – S India (Kerala, S Tamil Nadu) and Sri Lanka.
  • Descriptive notes

    25–28 cm; 108–140 g. Large, streaky green and brown barbet. Both sexes of nominate race with prominent pale streaks on brown head, mantle and breast; throat brown... read more


    Song starts with trilling, then double “po-kok” or “too-kkak” notes in long... read more


    Forest, neither very wet nor very dry, also edges, gardens and tree plantations, deciduous woods... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on fruits, especially figs, Syzygium fruits, and berries, including those of coffee, and also tomatoes and garden fruits;... read more


    Feb–Oct. Both sexes sing simultaneously, and countersing with others. Nest, excavated by both adults, at 2–15 m in tree or... read more


    Resident; makes only local movements to fruiting trees, orchards.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common in much of India; locally fairly common in W Nepal; common in Sri Lanka. Aggressive and somewhat adaptable barbet. Has been reported... read more

    Recommended citation

    Short, L.L. & Horne, J.F.M. (2020). Brown-headed Barbet (Psilopogon zeylanicus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).