Family African Barbets (Lybiidae)

Least Concern

Green Barbet (Cryptolybia olivacea)


French: Barbican olivâtre German: Olivbartvogel Spanish: Barbudo oliváceo

Barbatula olivacea


, 1880,

Rabai, south-east Kenya


Previously placed in Stactolaema, but such treatment would lead to paraphyly in latter genus#R. Races belcheri and woodwardi sometimes treated both as full species, but their features are apparent to some degree in other races, and they are vocally identical. Proposed race hylophona included within woodwardi, although tending towards N races. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. o. olivacea (Shelley, 1880) – Green Barbet – SE Kenya and NE Tanzania.
  • C. o. howelli (Jensen & Stuart, 1982) – Udzungwe and Mahenge Mts, in C Tanzania.
  • C. o. rungweensis (Benson, 1948) – highlands of SW Tanzania and N Malawi.
  • C. o. woodwardi (Shelley, 1895) – Woodward’s Barbet – disjunctly in SE Tanzania (Rondo Plateau) and E South Africa (Ngoye Forest, in E KwaZulu-Natal).
  • C. o. belcheri (W. L. Sclater, 1927) – Thyolo Barbet – NW Mozambique (Mt Namuli) and S Malawi (Mt Thyolo).
  • Descriptive notes

    17–18 cm; 40–60 g. Generally olive-green, unpatterned barbet. Nominate race has forehead to nape blackish brown, ear-coverts greyer; hint of yellow-green area... read more


    Song up to 30 (sometimes as few as four) loud “chowp” notes introduced by “chuk... read more


    Wet to dry forest and dense to open woodland, and in Kenya Brachystegia woodland, using... read more

    Food and feeding

    Takes fruits such as figs, Flagellaria guineensis and many others, e.g. Celtis gomphophylla (Ulmaceae), including berries... read more


    Sept–Apr generally, mainly Sept–Jan in S (e.g. Oct–Dec in Malawi). Social, nests in groups of up to eight within... read more


    Resident and sedentary, although race belcheri has wandered N of Mt Thyolo, to Bvumbwe, a... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in coastal Kenya, where recorded in c. 75% of forest fragments surveyed in mid-1990s and shows some adaptation to Brachystegia forest... read more

    Recommended citation

    Short, L.L., Horne, J.F.M. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Green Barbet (Cryptolybia olivacea). 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).