Animal Species:White-browed Babbler

White-browed Babblers build communal roosting nests of twigs and sticks, usually in dead or partly living trees. They participate in activities such as dust-bathing, preening and feeding as a group.

White-browed Babbler at nest

CE Bryant © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

White-browed Babbler

Alternative Name/s

Chatterer, Cackler, Yahoo

Identification

The White-browed Babbler is a small dark brown-grey bird with a white throat, a white tipped tail and a long, pointed curved bill. It has a distinct white brow and dark eye stripe. The tail is long and graduated, with a rounded tip and is often held raised or fanned. It is a very active bird that is often found in noisy social groups.

The White-browed Babbler is the smallest of the babblers and is much smaller than the similarly coloured Grey-crowned Babbler, P. temporalis. Its white brow is long and narrow, curving back from the base of the bill to a fine point at the nape. The Grey-crowned and Hall's Babbler, P. halli, both have a wider brow line. The Chestnut-crowned Babbler, P. ruficeps, has a fine eyeline, but has a chestnut cap.

Size range

17 cm to 21 cm

Similar Species

Grey-crowned Babbler, Hall's Babbler, Chestnut-crowned Babbler

Distribution

The White-browed Babbler is endemic to mainland Australia, mainly south of the Tropic of Capricorn and west of the Great Dividing Range and to the north of the Dividing Range in Victoria, extending to south-eastern South Australia. Scattered populations are found in outback Northern Territory and Western Australia, particularly in the south-western corner of Western Australia.

Habitat

The White-browed Babbler is found in dry sclerophyll woodlands with a shrubby understorey, mulga, acacias, mallee, cyprus pine scrubs, timber, scrub along watercourses and saltbush.

Feeding and Diet

The White-browed Babbler feeds on insects, spiders and other invertebrates, small amphibians, crustaceans and reptiles and will also eat fruits and seeds. It mainly feeds on the ground, among leaf litter or under logs and branches.

Communication

Chattering miaowing; whistled rising 'sweet-sweet-sweet-miaow'. Its alarm call is a brisk 'wit-wit'. The most common call is a contact call 'chuk' while feeding.

Mating and reproduction

The White-browed Babbler builds a domed stick nest, with a hooded side entrance. It builds both brood (for breeding) and roost (for resting) nests. Breeding pairs are monogamous, but they form co-operative breeding groups comprising two to four breeding pairs and two to eight non-breeding helpers. Only the breeding female incubates the eggs, though other birds in the group feed her and the young birds. Co-operatively breeding groups occupy a home-range, but there are complex interactions within and between groups.

  • Breeding Season: June to November, may breed year round
  • Clutch size: Two to three.
  • Incubation: 19 days
  • Time in nest: 17 days

Conservation Status

The White-browed Babbler has probably declined where habitat has been cleared and fragmented.

Classification

Species:
superciliosus
Genus:
Pomatostomus
Family:
Pomatostomidae
Order:
Passeriformes
Class:
Aves

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References

  • Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
  • Morcombe, M. 2000. Field guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing.
  • Simpson, K and Day, N. 1999. Field guide to the birds of Australia, 6th Edition. Penguin Books, Australia.
  • Higgins, P.J. and J.M. Peter (eds) 2002. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 6: Pardalotes to Shrike-thrushes. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.


Aaron
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Tags BIBY, white-browed babbler, birds,