Tricholaema leucomelas (Acacia pied barbet, Pied barbet) 

Bonthoutkapper [Afrikaans]; Sikuta (name also applied to Yellow-fronted tinkerbird) [Kwangali]; Serokolo [South Sotho]; Mogôrôsi [Tswana]; Kaapse baardvogel [Dutch]; Barbican pie [French]; Rotstirn-bartvogel [German]; Barbaças-das-acácias [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Piciformes > Family: Lybiidae

Tricholaema leucomelas (Acacia pied barbet, Pied barbet) Tricholaema leucomelas (Acacia pied barbet, Pied barbet) 
Tricholaema leucomelas (Acacia pied barbet, Pied barbet) 
Acacia pied barbet at nest entrance. [photo Peter Steyn ©] Top right: Acacia pied barbet feeding on figs, West Coast Fossil Park, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ©]

Bottom right: Acacia pied barbet. [photo Neil Gray ©]

The Acacia pied barbet is nearly endemic to southern Africa, as its range extends marginally into Angola and Zambia. It mainly occurs in semi-arid savanna, but it has recently colonised grasslands, fynbos, orchards and suburban gardens, due to the introduction of alien tree species, especially Acacia. It feeds mainly on fruit, as well as insects, Aloe nectar and flower petals. Both sexes excavate the nest, which is a chamber dug into the underside of dead branches, laying 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes, for 12-18 days. The chicks stay in the nest for about 35 days, and are fed by both parents.

Distribution and habitat

Nearly endemic to southern Africa, marginally extending into Angola and Zambia. It is common in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, southern Mozambique and South Africa. It generally prefers semi-arid savanna, but in the past century it has colonised grasslands, fynbos, orchards and suburban gardens, due to the introduction of alien tree species, especially Acacia.

Distribution of Acacia pied barbet in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Lesser honeyguide.

Food 

It feeds mainly on fruit, as well as insects, Aloe nectar and flower petals. The following food items have been record in its diet:

  • Plants
    • fruit
      • mistletoes
        • Loranthaceae
        • Viscaceae
      • Ficus (wild figs)
      • Boscia (shepherds-trees)
      • Rhus (karees)
      • Euclea (guarris)
      • Phoenix reclinata (Wild date palm)
      • apples
    • Aloe nectar
    • petals of Homeria pallida (Yellow iris)
    • seedpods of Sophora japonica (alien Japanese pagoda)
  • Insects

Breeding

  • Both sexes excavate the nest, which is a chamber dug into the underside of a dead branch. The following trees are used as nest sites:
    • Acacia
    • Euphorbia
    • Aloe dichotoma (Quiver-tree)
    • Ziziphus (jujubes)
    • Salix (willows)
  • Egg-laying season is from August-April.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 12-18 days.
  • The chicks stay in the nest for about 35 days, and are fed by both parents.

Threats

Not threatened, in fact has taken advantage of the increasing amount of alien trees, which it uses as nesting sites. This has caused its range and population to increase recently.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

  

 

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