Family African Barbets (Lybiidae)

Least Concern

Red-fronted Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus pusillus)


French: Barbion à front rouge German: Feuerstirn-Bartvogel Spanish: Barbudito frentirrojo

Bucco pusillus

Dumont de Sainte Croix

, 1816,

Sunday River, east Cape Province, South Africa


Closely related to P. chrysoconus, which it meets marginally in Ethiopia and South Africa with no apparent hybridization; both are also closely related to P. subsulphureus and P. bilineatus, and perhaps fairly close to P. atroflavus. Populations to E and S of L Victoria formerly separated as race eupterus; proposed race niethammeri (from S Swaziland) included in nominate. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. p. uropygialis (Heuglin, 1862) – Eritrea and N & C Ethiopia to N Somalia.
  • P. p. affinis (Reichenow, 1879) – SE South Sudan, S Ethiopia and S Somalia S to SE Tanzania.
  • P. p. pusillus (Dumont de Sainte Croix, 1816) – S Mozambique S to E South Africa (to S Eastern Cape).
  • Descriptive notes

    9·5–11·5 cm; 6–12·5 g. Tiny, short-tailed tinkerbird with black, gold-yellow and white streaky and spotted pattern, and red forecrown. Both... read more


    Song slow “pop” notes unbroken by pauses, to 20 minutes at 109–140 per minute in... read more


    Various dry woodland, bushland, riverine bush in desert, scrubland, cut-over forest and gardens.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diverse fruits and berries, mainly mistletoe berries (Loranthaceae); also unspecified insects (including beetles) and spiders. Flies... read more


    Feb–Sept, occasionally Oct, in N, and Oct–Dec in S. Singer erects rump, throat and red frontal feathers, flips tail at each pop... read more


    Some movements suggested by disappearance from some sites after breeding; in uplands numbers... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in most of range; fairly common in Kenya. The commonest tinkerbird along with P. chrysoconus and P. bilineatus. More precise... read more

    Recommended citation

    Short, L.L. & Horne, J.F.M. (2017). Red-fronted Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus pusillus). 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 15 December 2017).