Family African Barbets (Lybiidae)

Least Concern

White-eared Barbet (Stactolaema leucotis)


French: Barbican oreillard German: Weißohr-Bartvogel Spanish: Barbudo orejiblanco común

Megalæma [sic] leucotis


, 1850,

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Sometimes placed in genus Smilorhis. Hitherto considered conspecific with S. leucogrammica. Kenyan population sometimes separated as race kenyae, but normally considered indistinguishable from kilimensis. In the past, race bocagei of Lybius torquatus erroneously listed as a race of present species. Two subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. l. kilimensis (Shelley, 1889) – CE & SE Kenya to NE Tanzania.
  • S. l. leucotis (Sundevall, 1850) – Malawi and Mozambique S to Swaziland and E South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal).
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 17–18 cm; 48–63 g. Dark brown woodland barbet with white belly and dark head; eyes brown with grey-black orbital skin, legs and feet black to grey-brown, with... read more


    Especially noisy in groups. Various harsh “skreek” calls (usually 3–4 per second... read more


    Moist primary and secondary forest, including Brachystegia and Uapaca, forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet comprises fruits, including figs (Ficus, which are considered particularly important), guavas, pawpaws, mangoes, juniper,... read more


    Lays Jun–Jan in all areas, in N after main rains (Aug–Oct). Social nester. Courtship feeding occurs (even after young hatch);... read more


    Generally resident, and sedentary, but occasional wandering has been recorded, e.g. in Malawi,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Little information on status; apparently common at least in NE Tanzania, but local and uncommon in Kenya; said to occur in Taita Hills in SE Kenya,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Short, L.L., Horne, J.F.M. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). White-eared Barbet (Stactolaema leucotis). 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 24 February 2020).