Barbet Black-billed2 copy
Black-billed Barbet (Lybius guifsobalito)
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Piciformes
Family Lybiidae

Lybiidae or African barbets, is a family of barbets. They were usually united with their American and Asian relatives in the Capitonidae for quite some time, but this has been confirmed to be limited to the main American lineage. There are 42 species ranging from the type genus Lybius of forest interior to the tinkerbirds (Pogoniulus) of forest and scrubland. They are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of the far south-west of South Africa.

The African terrestrial barbets, Trachyphoninae, range from the southern Sahara to South Africa. Members of one genus, Trachyphonus, they are the most open-country species of barbets. The subfamily Lybiinae contains the African arboreal barbets.

Description and Ecology

Most African barbets are about 20–25 cm (7.9–9.8 in) long, plump-looking, with large heads, and their heavy bill is fringed with bristles; the tinkerbirds are smaller, ranging down to the red-rumped tinkerbird (Pogoniulus atroflavus) at 7 g (0.25 oz) and 9 cm (3.5 in).

They are mainly solitary birds, eating insects and fruit. Figs and numerous other species of fruiting tree and bush are visited, an individual barbet may feed on as many as 60 different species in its range. They will also visit plantations and take cultivated fruit and vegetables. Fruit is eaten whole and indigestible material such as seed pits regurgitated later (often before singing). Regurgitation does not usually happen in the nest (as happens with toucans), although tinkerbirds do place sticky mistletoe seeds around the entrances of their nests, possibly to deter predators. As the other barbets, they are thought to be important agents in seed dispersal in tropical forests.

As well as taking fruit, African barbets also take arthropod prey, gleaned from the branches and trunks of trees. A wide range of insects are taken, including ants, cicadas, dragonflies, crickets, locusts, beetles, moths and mantids. Scorpions and centipedes are also taken, and a few species will take small vertebrates such as lizards, frogs and geckos.

The precise nesting details of many African barbets are not yet known, although peculiarly among the Piciformes, some sociable species will nest in riverbanks or termite nests. Like many members of their order, Piciformes, their nests are in holes bored into a tree, and they usually lay between 2 to 4 eggs (except for the yellow-breasted barbet which lays up to 6), incubated for 13–15 days. Nesting duties are shared by both parents.

There has been generally little interference by humans. Some of the species which require primary woodland are declining due to deforestation, occasionally to the benefit of close relatives. For example, the loss of highland woods in Kenya has seen the moustached tinkerbird almost disappear and the red-fronted tinkerbird expand its range.


Subfamily: Lybiinae
 Genus: Buccanodon
  Yellow-spotted Barbet (Cassin, 1856) (Buccanodon duchaillui)
 Genus: Gymnobucco
  Grey-throated Barbet (Hartlaub, 1854) (Gymnobucco bonapartei)
  Naked-faced Barbet (Lafresnaye, 1841) (Gymnobucco calvus)
  Bristle-nosed Barbet (Lafresnaye, 1857) (Gymnobucco peli)
  Sladen's Barbet (Ogilvie-Grant, 1907) (Gymnobucco sladeni)
 Genus: Lybius
  Double-toothed Barbet (Shaw, 1798) (Lybius bidentatus)
  Chaplin's Barbet (Clarke, 1920) (Lybius chaplini)
  Bearded Barbet (Gmelin, 1788) (Lybius dubius)
  Black-billed Barbet (Hermann, 1783) (Lybius guifsobalito)
  White-headed Barbet (De Filippi, 1853) (Lybius leucocephalus)
  Brown-breasted Barbet (Peters, 1854) (Lybius melanopterus)
  Black-backed Barbet (Cuvier, 1816) (Lybius minor)
  Black-breasted Barbet (De Filippi, 1853) (Lybius rolleti)
  Red-faced Barbet (Reichenow, 1892) (Lybius rubrifacies)
  Black-collared Barbet (Dumont, 1816) (Lybius torquatus)
  Banded Barbet (Rüppell, 1837) (Lybius undatus)
  Vieillot's Barbet (Leach, 1815) (Lybius vieilloti)
 Genus: Pogoniulus (tinkerbirds)
  Red-rumped Tinkerbird (Sparrman, 1798) (Pogoniulus atroflavus)
  Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird (Sundevall, 1850) (Pogoniulus bilineatus)
  Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird (Temminck, 1832) (Pogoniulus chrysoconus)
  Western Tinkerbird (Reichenow, 1892) (Pogoniulus coryphaea)
  Moustached Tinkerbird (Sharpe, 1892) (Pogoniulus leucomystax)
  White-chested Tinkerbird (Benson & Irwin, 1965) (Pogoniulus makawai)
  Red-fronted Tinkerbird (Dumont, 1816) (Pogoniulus pusillus)
  Speckled Tinkerbird (Bonaparte, 1850) (Pogoniulus scolopaceus)
  Green Tinkerbird (Fischer & Reichenow, 1884) (Pogoniulus simplex)
  Yellow-throated Tinkerbird (Fraser, 1843) (Pogoniulus subsulphureus)
 Genus: Stactolaema
  Anchieta's Barbet (Barboza du Bocage, 1869) (Stactolaema anchietae)
  White-eared Barbet (Sundevall, 1850) (Stactolaema leucotis)
  Green Barbet (Shelley, 1880) (Stactolaema olivacea)
  Whyte's Barbet (Shelley, 1893) (Stactolaema whytii)
 Genus: Tricholaema
  Red-fronted Barbet (Heuglin, 1861) (Tricholaema diademata)
  Miombo Pied Barbet (Cabanis, 1880) (Tricholaema frontata)
  Hairy-breasted Barbet (Swainson, 1821) (Tricholaema hirsuta)
  Black-throated Barbet (Cretzschmar, 1826) (Tricholaema melanocephala)
  Spot-flanked Barbet (Cabanis, 1878) (Tricholaema lacrymosa)
  Acacia Pied Barbet (Boddaert, 1783) (Tricholaema leucomelas)
Subfamily: Trachyphoninae
 Genus: Trachyphonus
  D'Arnaud's Barbet (Prévost & Des Murs, 1847) (Trachyphonus darnaudii)
   Usambiro Barbet (Trachyphonus (darnaudii) usambiro)
  Red-and-yellow Barbet (Cabanis, 1878) (Trachyphonus erythrocephalus)
  Yellow-breasted Barbet (Cretzschmar, 1826) (Trachyphonus margaritatus)
  Yellow-billed Barbet (Verreaux & Verreaux, 1851) (Trachyphonus purpuratus)
  Crested Barbet (Ranzani, 1821) (Trachyphonus vaillantii)
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