Bird O'clock

Discover the Unique Habits of the Anchieta’s Barbet

Bird watching is a pleasurable hobby that reveals a world of intriguing species full of vibrant plumages, enchanting songs and captivating behaviors. One such bird species is the Anchieta’s Barbet, Stactolaema anchietae, found in the African continent’s eastern part.

What sets this species apart from other birds is their unique appearance, feeding, and breeding habits.


Field Identification

Anchieta’s Barbet is a small and vibrant bird species, with an average size of 20 cm long. They have a sturdy body with a stubby beak and a unique plumage that consists of green, red, black, and yellow tones.

The head is predominantly rusty red, and the wings are black with a green tinge. The back and tail feathers are yellow-green, and the belly feathers are yellowish-green.

A distinctive feature of the Anchieta’s Barbet is the yellow line that runs above the eye, separating the reddish crown and face.

Similar Species

When searching for the Anchieta’s Barbet, one might come across other barbet species that bear a similar resemblance. An example of such species is the Red-rumped Tinkerbird.

However, the latter species does not have the distinctive yellow line above the eye. Another comparable bird species is the Gray-headed Oliveback.

Still, its plumage is predominantly green with no yellow or red, unlike the Anchieta’s Barbet.


The Anchieta’s Barbet has a unique plumage that distinguishes it from other bird species. The adult breeding plumage is predominantly bright red, with black wings and a yellow belly.

They have distinctive white eyes, a black bill, and black cheeks. The juveniles’ plumage is dimmer, with yellowish-brown feathers on the head and back, and paler underneath.

Over time, the juveniles gradually molt and develop their adult plumage.


Anchieta’s barbet experiences a post-breeding molt from September to October, where they shed their feathers and replace them with new ones. This time is critical because the birds need a new plumage to shield them from potential predators and changing weather conditions.

The molted feathers are essential for scientific study purposes as they offer insights into the age and growth rate of the bird species.

Breeding and Feeding Habits

Anchieta’s barbet primarily feeds on fruits, insects, and small invertebrates. They forage independently or in mated pairs, especially when rearing their young.

These birds have a unique breeding habit where they dig holes into cliffs or trees to make their nests. The female generally lays about two to three eggs, which hatch after approximately 17 days.

The young ones are entirely dependent on their parents for food and protection for about 3 weeks before leaving the nest. Anchieta’s Barbet is known for their territorial behavior, where they defend their nesting sites from other aggressive bird species.


In conclusion, Anchieta’s Barbet is a fascinating bird species that is distinctively unique in the African continent’s eastern part. With its vibrant plumage, foraging, and breeding habits and territorial nature, it sets itself apart from other birds.

Bird watching enthusiasts can sharpen their identifying skills by observing the Anchieta’s Barbet’s unique appearance and behavior.

Systematics History

The taxonomy of organisms is continually evolving as an increasing amount of information becomes available on their morphology, DNA analyses, distribution, and behavior. The Anchieta’s Barbet, Stactolaema anchietae, is a bird species that has undergone several changes in its systematics history.

Geographic Variation

Geographic variation is a term used to refer to differences in morphology, behavior, or genetics among individuals of a species from different geographical regions. The Anchieta’s Barbet is not exempt from geographic variation, given that it occurs in different regions of the African continent.


There are six currently recognized subspecies of the Anchieta’s Barbet that have been classified based on morphological differences. They include:


Stactolaema anchietae anchietae This subspecies is found in Angola, Congo and Zambia. It is the nominate subspecies and has a reddish-orange head and neck, a black back and wings, a yellow belly and a green tail.

2. Stactolaema anchietae benguellensis This subspecies is restricted to northern Angola in the area around Benguela.

It is similar to the nominate subspecies but has a larger and darker bill and more extensive black on the head. 3.

Stactolaema anchietae chapini This subspecies is found in northwestern Angola, east of Huambo. It differs from the other subspecies by having a smaller bill, less extensive black on the head, less green, and more yellow on the belly.

4. Stactolaema anchietae cyanolaema This subspecies is found in southern Angola and northern Namibia.

It is quite distinct from the other subspecies, with blue-grey plumage on the crown and nape, a black mask, and a yellow belly. 5.

Stactolaema anchietae hulleyi This subspecies is found in southeastern Angola and northwestern Zambia. It has a larger bill, black back, and green feathers extending further along the tail.

6. Stactolaema anchietae johnstoni This subspecies is found in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya.

It is the smallest subspecies, with a dark grey head, yellow belly, and green feathers extending further along the tail than in other subspecies.

Related Species

The Anchieta’s Barbet belongs to the Capitonidae family, which consists of approximately 14 genera and over 60 species of barbets distributed worldwide. The genus Stactolaema has two other species, the Banded Barbet (Stactolaema leucotis) and the Barred Long-tailed Cuckoo (Macrourus indignus), with which it shares its habitat.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Anchieta’s Barbet’s historical distribution was restricted to the interior highlands of Angola, where it occurs in forested areas, specifically in miombo, mopane, and Brachystegia montane forests. However, several changes have occurred over time, with the species’ range extending over different regions.

In the early 1900s, Anchieta’s Barbet was seen in several localities in the Angolan highlands, including the mountainous regions around Missombo Gorge, where the species was first recorded in 1887. Later, in the mid-1900s, the bird species was reported in the northeast part of Namibia, close to the Caprivi Strip and Kasane in Botswana.

Moreover, in the 1990s, the species’ distribution range was recorded to extend to the Bangweulu Swamps in east-central Zambia, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The bird species was also sighted in the Uluguru Mountains of Tanzania, the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania, and the Taita Hills of Kenya.

These changes in distribution patterns have been attributed to several factors, including habitat loss, climate change, and increased surveillance and expeditions by ornithologists over the years to document the species’ distribution range.


The Anchieta’s Barbet, Stactolaema anchietae, is a bird species that has been subjected to several changes in its systematics history, including changes in its geographic variation, subspecies classification, and distribution. While the species’ range was originally restricted to the interior highlands of Angola, it has extended across different regions over time.

By understanding the historical context of this bird species, it is easier to appreciate its behavior and ecology in its current distribution range.


Anchieta’s Barbet is a bird species that is well adapted to life in forests and woodlands. They are widespread in the dense miombo forests of the Angola highlands and can also be found in mopane and Brachystegia montane forests.

These birds prefer dense forest habitats where they can find suitable nesting sites, food, and cover from predators. Anchieta’s Barbet lives in complex and diverse ecosystems, sometimes characterized by high levels of rainfall throughout the year.

In these ecosystems, the bird species has adapted to feed on a diet that includes fruit and insects. The forest habitat offers them an opportunity to forage on a variety of fruit from different trees throughout the year.

The insects they feed on include beetles, caterpillars, ants, bees, and other invertebrates.

Movements and Migration

Anchieta’s Barbet is not known to undertake long-distance migrations. However, these bird species may move across different ecological zones in search of food and nesting sites.

During the breeding season, which typically runs from August to February, individuals may move to areas where food resources are plentiful to raise their young. When nesting season ends, the birds may return to their original habitat.

Anchieta’s Barbet is a non-migratory species, meaning that it does not undertake the long and perilous journeys associated with other bird species. Migration takes a lot of energy, and typically birds that migrate do so to exploit new food resources or in search of a more suitable habitat to breed or find refuge.

However, while Anchieta’s Barbet does exhibit local movements, such movements are not extensive and usually occur over short distances. Several factors influence the movements of the Anchieta’s Barbet.

These include changes in the weather, the presence of predators, and habitat disturbance, among others. An increase in rainfall may lead to the proliferation of certain insect populations, which would, in turn, attract the birds to areas where food resources are abundant.

Predators such as snakes may also cause the birds to move by making their nesting sites unsuitable for rearing their young. Additionally, habitat disturbance caused by human activities such as logging, clearing of forests for agricultural purposes or road construction may also impact on Anchieta’s Barbet, leading to changes in their movements and behavior.

Conservation and Management

Anchieta’s Barbet is a bird species that is highly valued for its unique appearance and ecology, and its decline has raised concern among conservationists and bird enthusiasts. Several factors have led to the population decline of the species, including habitat loss, climate change, and human activities such as logging and bushfires.

Conservation measures that are grounded in sound ecological principles are, therefore, crucial in ensuring the longevity of the species. One way of conserving and managing the Anchieta’s Barbet is by protecting its habitats.

Designating forest reserves or national parks where the species occurs can go a long way in conserving its habitat. These reserves should be managed in a sustainable manner that ensures that the integrity of the ecosystem is maintained, and the bird species’ food sources and nesting sites are conserved.

In addition to habitat conservation, there is also a need to sensitize the local communities on the importance and value of their bird species. Engaging communities in conservation activities such as tree planting, forest patrols, and monitoring of bird populations can help create awareness and promote ecotourism.


In conclusion, Anchieta’s Barbet is a bird species that is well adapted to life in woodlands and forests. Despite not being migratory, they exhibit local movements that are influenced by several factors, including weather changes, the presence of predators, and habitat disturbance.

As a species of conservation concern, there is a need to implement sound conservation measures grounded in ecological principles that prioritize habitat conservation and community engagement. Protecting their habitats will go a long way in ensuring the longevity of the species.

Diet and Foraging


Anchieta’s Barbet is a frugivorous bird species, meaning that it primarily feeds on fruits. However, they supplement their fruit diet with insects and other small invertebrates, especially during the breeding season when they are raising their young.

Anchieta’s Barbets are also known to take nectar from flowers. These bird species are opportunistic feeders that will feed on whatever food resources are available to them.

The fruit that they feed on includes figs, berries, and other small fruits, which they glean from the canopy of forest trees. They forage independently or in mated pairs, during late morning and early afternoon hours.


Anchieta’s Barbet is a bird species that has a unique dietary preference. Their primary diet consists of ripe fruits, and they can eat up to 18 different types of fruit in a single day.

These species prefer to consume fruits that have a high sugar content and low acidity, such as those produced by the Ficus genus.

In addition to fruits, Anchieta’s Barbet will also eat insects and other small invertebrates.

During nesting season, when raising their young, they consume a high proportion of insects for the protein and other nutrients required for the young ones’ development. The insects are typically small and include beetles, caterpillars, ants, and bees.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The metabolic rate of Anchieta’s Barbet is high, which is characteristic of small birds that engage in active foraging behaviors. These species are also capable of regulated hypothermia, which allows them to reduce their metabolic demands when food supplies are limited.

By lowering their body temperature, the birds can survive with less energy for longer periods, enabling them to conserve resources until food sources become available again.

Sounds and Vocal



Anchieta’s Barbet is a bird species that is known for its vocal behavior. The male has a more complex vocalization, which is made up of different notes that are repeated in a series.

The female has a simpler vocalization, which is used primarily to communicate with her partner and chicks. These bird species produce a loud and melodious call that has been described as a nasal “kronk-kronk-kronk” sound.

The calls are typically heard during the breeding season, when the males are trying to attract females. The calls are also used to mark territories and to communicate with their mates.

Anchieta’s Barbet is capable of producing a range of different sounds using different biological mechanisms. They use their syrinx, a specialized organ located at the base of their trachea, to produce sounds.

The muscles in these organs alter the airflow and change the tension in the syringeal membranes to produce different notes and calls.


In conclusion, Anchieta’s Barbet is a unique bird species that exhibits adaptive behaviors regarding food and vocalization. While frugivorous, they supplement their diet with insects, nectar, and small invertebrates.

Their foraging behaviors are essential in maintaining their energetic demands, and their metabolic rates are high, enabling them to forage for a prolonged period. In terms of vocalization, their calls are loud, melodious and complex, with each sex having a unique vocalization pattern.

Understanding the species’ dietary and vocalization behaviors is crucial in appreciating their uniqueness and conservation.


Anchieta’s Barbet is a bird species that exhibits unique locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic, and sexual behaviors.


Anchieta’s Barbet is a bird species that spends most of its time perched on trees. Their feet have evolved into zygodactyl with two toes pointing forward and two pointing backward.

This arrangement of toes allows them to have a strong grip on branches, enabling them to move around with ease. These bird species are also known for their hopping movements.

When on the ground, they hop to move around and use their wings to maintain balance and to guide their movements. Anchieta’s Barbet is also capable of short, fluttering flights, traveling mostly between trees, and foraging sites.

Self Maintenance

Anchieta’s Barbet spends a lot of time maintaining its feathers. They use their beaks as a tool to preen and clean their feathers, ensuring that they are healthy and in excellent condition.

Preening involves picking out dirt, pests, and other debris, while aligning, smoothing, and arranging feathers to maintain their insulation properties. Agonistic


Anchieta’s Barbet exhibits agonistic behavior towards other birds where they defend their nesting sites from intruders or predators.

These birds are known to exhibit territorial behavior and will protect their territory aggressively, sometimes attacking other birds that venture too close to their nesting sites. In addition to territorial behavior, Anchieta’s Barbet also exhibit complex communication systems that involve posturing, singing, and vocalizing.

These behaviors are crucial in maintaining the social balance within the bird species and help in avoiding conflicts. Sexual


Anchieta’s Barbet exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males and females having different physical features that play a role in sexual behavior.

During the breeding season, males exhibit a range of behaviors, including singing and posturing to attract females.


Anchieta’s Barbet is a bird species that has a unique breeding habit. They build their nests inside holes or hollows in trees or rocks, making them one of the few African barbet species that does not construct their nests.

The female typically lays two to three eggs, which she incubates for about two weeks. The male feeds her during this time, and both parents share the duties of feeding and caring for the young ones.

The young ones hatch blind, without feathers and are entirely dependent on their parents for survival. Their parents feed them with regurgitated fruit and insects for approximately three weeks before

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