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This is the largest barbet at 31–33 cm (12–13 in) in length and a weight of 192–295 g (6.8–10.4 oz). It is a plump bird, with a short neck, large head and short tail. The adult has a blue head, large yellow bill, brown back and breast, green-streaked yellow belly and red vent. The rest of the plumage is green. Both sexes and immature birds are similar.
The Great Barbet is a resident breeder in the lower-to-middle altitudes of the Himalayas, ranging across northern India, Nepal and Bhutan, and some parts of Southeast Asia as far away as Laos. It is a species of broadleaf evergreen woodlands at 600-2,565 m altitude. It nests in a tree hole.