Family African Barbets (Lybiidae)

Least Concern

Whyte's Barbet (Stactolaema whytii)


French: Barbican de Whyte German: Spiegelbartvogel Spanish: Barbudo especulado

Smilorhis whytii


, 1893,

Zomba, Malawi


Closely related to S. anchietae. Nominate (plush white-spotted black cap vs normal yellow-feathered cap) proposed for specific separation#R, but appears to be vocally identical and race angoniensis is to some extent intermediate#R. Proposed race euroum considered synonym of nominate; irwini (from E Zimbabwe) included within sowerbyi. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. w. whytii (Shelley, 1893) – Whyte’s Barbet – SC Tanzania to Mozambique and SE Malawi.
  • S. w. stresemanni (Grote, 1934) – SW corner of Tanzania and adjacent NE Zambia.
  • S. w. terminata (Clancey, 1956) – highlands around Iringa, in S Tanzania.
  • S. w. angoniensis (Benson, 1964) – E Zambia to SW Malawi.
  • S. w. sowerbyi Sharpe, 1898 – Sowerby’s Barbet – E Zimbabwe to extreme S Malawi.
  • S. w. buttoni (C. M. N. White, 1945) – NC Zambia and extreme S DRCongo.
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 19 cm; 51–62·5 g. Brown woodland barbet with white chin and 2 white wing patches. Nominate race has top of head black, spotted with white, white line below... read more


    Song is soft series of “hoo” notes, 0·7–1 per second, faster than that of S. anchietae... read more


    Brachystegia woodland, partly cleared woods, riverside woods, and gardens, at 750–... read more

    Food and feeding

    Eats berries, and fruits such as figs, masuku (Uapaca kirkiana) and others; also insects, including ants, termites, grasshoppers,... read more


    Aug–Jan, mainly Oct–Dec. Nests in groups, with helpers, group containing up to 6 birds, nests sometimes as close together as... read more


    Resident and sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Somewhat adaptable, can exist in patches of woodland where considerable clearance has been carried out, so long as trees that are suitable for... read more

    Recommended citation

    Short, L.L. & Horne, J.F.M. (2017). Whyte's Barbet (Stactolaema whytii). 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 18 December 2017).