Family African Barbets (Lybiidae)

Least Concern

Black-throated Barbet (Tricholaema melanocephala)


French: Barbican à tête noire German: Schwarzkopf-Bartvogel Spanish: Barbudo cabecinegro

Pogonias melanocephala


, 1829,

north Ethiopia


Closely related to T. lacrymosa. Races moderately distinctive; flavibuccalis, known from few NC Tanzanian specimens, sometimes considered a separate species, or a megasubspecies, although it could be no more than a morph. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. m. melanocephala (Cretzschmar, 1829) – Black-throated Barbet – Eritrea, N & C Ethiopia, Djibouti and NW Somalia.
  • T. m. stigmatothorax Cabanis, 1878 – E South Sudan, S Ethiopia and S Somalia S to C Tanzania.
  • T. m. blandi E. L. Phillips, 1897 – CN & NE Somalia.
  • T. m. flavibuccalis Reichenow, 1893 – Yellow-cheeked Barbet – NC Tanzania (Seronera region and Wembere steppes).
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; 17–25 g. Small black and white barbet. Both sexes of nominate race with white supercilia, glossy black above with yellow spots and streaks, wing... read more


    Very vocal, large repertoire; has “kaaa” instead of “hoop” song, and... read more


    Very dry woodland, brushland, scrubland, including desert with some cover; in drier areas at lower... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including various larvae, flies and termites; also fruits, as of Ficus, Grewia, Salvadora and ... read more


    Feb–Jun in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania; also Jul–Aug and Nov–Dec in parts of Kenya and Tanzania. Breeds in pairs,... read more


    Resident and sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. No information on numbers, but appears at least locally common; fairly common in Kenya and Tanzania; very uncommon in NE Somalia. May benefit from... read more

    Recommended citation

    Short, L.L. & Horne, J.F.M. (2019). Black-throated Barbet (Tricholaema melanocephala). 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 23 September 2019).