White-eared barbet

White-eared barbet
Stactolaema leucotis

Photo by Johan van Rensburg (Wikipedia)

Common name:
white-eared barbet (en); barbaças-de-orelhas-brancas (pt); barbican oreillard (fr); barbudo orejiblanco (es); weißohr-bartvogel (de)

Order Piciformes
Family Capitonidae

This species occur in two disjunct areas in eastern Africa. The subspecies S.l. kilimensis is found in central and south-eastern Kenya, and in north-eastern Tanzania, while subspecies S.l. leucotis is found from Malawi and northern Mozambique, through eastern Zimbabwe and into Swaziland and north-eastern South Africa.

These birds are 17-18 cm long and weigh 48-63 g.

The white-eared barbet is mostly found in moist tropical forests, including Brachystegia and Uapaca forests and woodlands, also using plantations and rural gardens. They occur from sea level up to an altitude of 2.600 m.

They feed mainly on fruits, especially wild figs but also other small fruits and berries and domesticated fruits such as guavas, papaws and mangoes. They also take some insects, especially during the breeding season, including termite alates, grasshoppers, dragonflies, cicadas, roaches, wasps and hornets.

White-eared barbets breed in June-March. They are monogamous, cooperative breeders, with the breeding pair being helped by up to 6 helpers. The nest is excavated by both parents and helpers, consisting of a hole on the underside of a dead tree branch. The female lays 3-6 eggs, which are incubated by both parents and helpers for 14-18 days. The chicks fledge about 39 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is reported to be locally common to uncommon. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to removal of dead trees which are required for nesting and roosting, and habitat fragmentation.

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