Arnauds barbet

Trachyphonus darnaudii

TAXONOMY

Trachyphonus darnaudii Cretzschmar, 1826. Four subspecies. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Usambiro barbet; French: Barbican d'Arnaud; German: Ohrfleck-Bartvogel; Spanish: Barbudo de D'Arnaud.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6.7-7.5 in (17-19 cm); 0.9-1.8 oz (25-50 g). A boldly spotted bird. Upperparts are blackish brown to brownish with white speckles; underparts are black speckled and there is a black patch on the lower throat and a black-and-white spotted band across the breast. Forehead and crown are yellow or orange and yellow speckled with black (one subspecies has black forehead and crown).

DISTRIBUTION

East Africa, including southeastern Sudan, northeastern Uganda, Kenya, northern Tanzania.

HABITAT

Dry thornbush and bushy savanna, abandoned Masai camps, open woodland.

BEHAVIOR

Found mostly in pairs, sometimes in groups of 4-5; often perches inconspicuously low down on a bush or stump. Erects crest feathers, bobs head, and flirts or sways tail during duet-ting calls.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Eats many ants, termites and their eggs, grasshoppers and other insects, some caught in flight, others picked from leaves or the ground. Also takes many berries and small fruits and seeds.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Song in duet from male and female, notes differing but not consistent within either sex; typically a series of up-down notes followed by two or three high notes, such as "witch-ee-tee-ta-ta-ta" or "ker-ka-tee-tootle," in synchronized pattern. Pairs usually use existing cavity in tree, not excavating their own; 2-4 eggs incubated probably by the parent birds, but perhaps assisted by helpers. The breeding pair feeds the chicks almost or entirely unassisted by helpers within a small group. Young beg for food from parents for some days after fledging; they may become helpers in subsequent breeding attempts in the next breeding season.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Widespread and locally common; not threatened. SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Little known to most people but frequent around old bush camps, Masai camps, and some tourist lodges. ♦

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