Family African Barbets (Lybiidae)

Least Concern

Acacia Pied Barbet (Tricholaema leucomelas)


French: Barbican pie German: Rotstirn-Bartvogel Spanish: Barbudo pío
Other common names: Pied Barbet

Bucco leucomelas


, 1783,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Species name sometimes erroneously spelt leucomelan, leucomelaena or leucomelaina, but original leucomelas must stand (as being non-Latinized Greek). Closely related to T. diademata (which see) and T. frontata. Occasionally interbreeds with T. frontata in S Zambia. Fairly closely related also to T. lacrymosa. Proposed race namaqua (W South Africa) included within nominate, nkatiensis (N Botswana) within centralis, and zuluensis (SE Zimbabwe S to E South Africa) within affinis. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. l. centralis (Roberts, 1932) – Angola, extreme SW Zambia and W Zimbabwe S to S Namibia and N South Africa (Northern Cape Province, W KwaZulu-Natal).
  • T. l. affinis (Shelley, 1880) – E Zimbabwe and SW Mozambique S to SE South Africa (Eastern Cape Province, N KwaZulu-Natal) and W & N Lesotho.
  • T. l. leucomelas (Boddaert, 1783) – W & S South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 17 cm; 23–45 g. Small, chunky, black, yellow and white barbet. Both sexes of nominate race with red forehead, yellow-white supercilia, and black chin, throat and... read more


    Main vocalizations, “hoop” and “nyah” series, nearly identical to those of... read more


    Woodland, including Acacia and Baikiaea woods, especially where open, also... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous: takes fruits such as those of lantana and Salvadora persica, seeds from pods of Sophora, occasionally nectar... read more


    As long as Sept–Jun in Angola; farther E & S mainly Aug or Sept–Jan, but Aug–Oct in far SW; sometimes nests 2–4... read more


    Resident, and generally sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. No figures on numbers or densities avai­lable, but species appears to be common throughout much, if not all, of its range. Reasonably adaptable,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Short, L.L. & Horne, J.F.M. (2019). Acacia Pied Barbet (Tricholaema leucomelas). 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 21 January 2019).