Something Over Tea

These chunky little barbets have an extremely wide range as they occur over most of South Africa. Many years ago I even used to see the odd one in our garden. Acacia Pied Barbets (Tricholaema leucomelas) favour both woodland and savanna, but are especially at home in arid acacia woodland. Tricholaema means ‘throat hair’ in Greek, while leucomelas is Latin for white and black. I find the Afrikaans name, Bonthoutkapper (variegated woodpecker), is an apt one for, like woodpeckers, they bore holes into dead trees into which they lay their eggs.

What stands out for me about their appearance is the vivid red forehead and conspicuous yellow-and-white eyebrows.

Like other barbets, they appear to have a large head and the heavy bill is fringed with bristles.

They are mainly solitary birds which eat fruits, insects, small vertebrates, nectar, and even flower petals.

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