Acacia Pied Barbet

Acacia Pied Barbet

About the Acacia Pied Barbet

A classic thorn-savannah species

The acacia pied barbet (Tricholaema leucomelas) is a small bird belonging to the Lybiidae family. This family of bird comprises 42 distinct kinds of African barbets.

Found across sub-Saharan Africa, except in the extreme south-westerly regions, Acacia pied barbets can survive in extremely arid areas by getting their water from succulent plants instead of conventional water sources.

Thanks to this remarkable behavioral adaptation, these birds thrive throughout Namibia with the exception of the most desolate areas.


The acacia pied barbet is a small striking bird with a distinctive black and white plumage offset by a red forecrown and pale-yellow stripe. The bird has a black bib under its chin, white underparts, and a stout bill with a sharp tip.

Males and females are similar in appearance and juveniles lack the red forehead and have feint streaks on their underparts. Both sexes have dark brown eyes, blackish legs and feet, and are about 18cm long and weigh up to 45 grams.

Social Structure of the Acacia Pied Barbet

Acacia pied barbets occur singly or in pairs. They’re mostly sedentary but can be restless. These birds fly with purpose, moving quickly and directly to their intended landing spot.

The males establish territories during the breeding season and attempt to woo mates with their skilled vocalizations. They call using short, repeated notes and string a complex range of sounds together when they burst into song.

Their courtship displays include interesting head-bobbing, bill-tapping, and wing-spreading rituals.

Lifecycle of the Acacia Pied Barbet

Once acacia pied barbets find a mate, they become a monogamous pair. They work together to excavate a cavity for their nest, between one and three meters above the ground, in dead, dried tree branches or stumps. They’re also known to carve out nests in umbrella thorn, sweet thorn and quiver trees.

They then lay two to four eggs during the spring or summer and these hatch within three weeks.

Both parents bring food to the chicks until they fly the nest when they’re about five weeks old.

Foraging Habits

Acacia pied barbets adjust their feeding habits according to what’s available in their habitat.

Their unique foraging methods involve pecking at the bark of trees to get to the ants and termites hidden within. They also enjoy fruit and seeds at times, especially berries, wild olives, and figs as well as nectar from flowers.

As such, they play a role in pollination as well as maintaining ecological balance by foraging only on the most abundant food sources in their area.

Where to see Acacia Pied Barbets

These birds prefer semi-arid savannah habitats, but they’re also found in grasslands and fynbos and occasionally in urban gardens and agricultural areas.

Acacia pied barbets are common throughout southern Africa, and you can see them in most Namibian National parks, like:

There are also high concentrations of these birds in northern Namibia in the Kavango region close to Rundu. You can also see them at Arebbusch Travel Lodge if you spend some time walking around the property or even while enjoying refreshments in the gardens outside the restaurant.

Enjoy Birds and Wildlife During Your Namibian Trip

Namibia is home to a staggering variety of arid-adapted birds and animals. While the best places to view these creatures are the national parks, you can also experience many hours of enjoyment while bird watching in urban gardens and parks throughout the country.

Windhoek’s many green spaces are ideal for sighting several of Namibia’s birds, including the acacia pied barbet.

Browse our travel guide for more information about Namibian wildlife and get your travels off to a  great start with a few days at Arebbusch Travel Lodge in Windhoek, Namibia.

Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.


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