The White-eared barbet occurs in a band from
Tanzania and Kenya to Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal, generally preferring moist woodland. It mainly eats fruit, especially Ficus (wild figs),
foraging in the tree canopy. Insects such as grasshoppers and cicadas largely make
up the rest of its diet. It is a cooperative breeder, with the breeding pair and
often helpers excavating the nest, which is a chamber dug into the underside of
dead branches. It lays 3-6 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes and nest helpers
for 14-18 days. In one study, the chicks stayed in the nest for about 39 days,
and were fed about 64% insects and 36% fruit (of which 99% was figs) .
Distribution and habitat
It occurs in a band from
Tanzania and Kenya to Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal. In southern Africa it is
locally common in the moist miombo (Brachystegia)
and mahobohobo (Uapaca) woodland of Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe, also
occupying moist lowland forest in KwaZulu-Natal.
It is a monogamous cooperative breeder, with the
breeding pair being helped by 1-6 helpers.
The nest is usually excavated by the breeding pair, sometimes
accompanied by helpers. It consists of a chamber dug into the underside of
dead branches of trees, mainly Ficus (wild fig), but also
Erythrina (coral-tree) and Syzygium (water-berries).
Egg-laying season is from August-March, peaking from October-December.
It lays 3-6, usually 4-5 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes and the
nest helpers, for 14-18 days.
The chicks stay in the nest for about 39 days, and are fed about 64%
insects and 36% fruit (of which 99% is Ficus). The following food
items have been recorded in the chicks diet: