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White-cheeked Barbet by Vinayak Yardi

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The White-cheeked Barbet or Small Green Barbet (Megalaima viridis) is a species of barbet found in southern India. It is very similar to the more widespread Brown-headed Barbet (or Large Green Barbet) (Megalaima zeylanica) but this species has a distinctive supercilium and a broad white cheek stripe below the eye and is endemic to the forest areas of the Western Ghats and adjoining hills. The Brown-headed Barbet has an orange eye-ring but the calls are very similar and the two species occur together in some of the drier forests to the east of the Western Ghats. Like all other Asian barbets they are mainly frugivorous although they may sometimes eat insects and they use their bills to excavate nest cavities in trees. The main range is along the Western Ghats south from the Surat Dangs and along the associated hills of southern India into parts of the southern Eastern Ghats mainly in the Shevaroy and Chitteri hills. In some areas such as in the city of Bangalore, it has been suggested that this species may have displaced the Brown-headed Barbet which was once said to occur there. These birds are primary cavity nesters, chiseling out the trunk or a vertical branch of tree with a round entry hole. They breed from December to July, sometimes raising two broods. Their fruit eating makes them a minor nuisance in fruit orchards although they are noted as having a beneficial effect in coffee plantations.

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