The White-browed Babbler is a common bird species around where I live in Murray Bridge, South Australia. They could almost be considered as a resident species in our garden and on our five-acre block of land, but we don’t see them every day. Frequently – but not every day. Their range must be larger than just our property.
A few days ago my wife and I had been out for the morning. I drove down the driveway and we stopped in the car for a few minutes to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine. It was a cold, blustery day with occasional showers. As we sat there chatting, we noticed a White-browed Babbler hopping along the driveway in front of the car. It had a few small twigs in its beak and was pecking at the ground, collecting more twigs. As it flew towards us, it looked like it had whiskers sticking out from its beak.
The bird flew immediately into the Grevillia bush next to the car. We immediately realised that it had been carrying nesting material. After a minute or so, we saw it fly out of the bush to another spot in the garden where it started collecting more twigs. While it was gone, I went to the bush and easily found the partly made nest. I did not linger long because the nesting building bird was on its way back to the nest.
Over the next few days, the Babblers in our garden busily kept working on the nest. I had another peek into the bush the day before we left on our four week trip to Sydney. The nest then looked complete, but I did not want to hang around too long to check whether any eggs had been deposited in the nest. If there are eggs in there, they will probably hatch out before we return home. We may be just in time to see the new hatchlings when we return.
White-browed Babblers are a resident breeding species in our garden. Hardly a day goes by without them coming quite close to the house and scratching around in the mulch or leaf litter under the trees. At other times they hop all over nearby trees, searching under the bark for ants, beetles and spiders.
Usually they come in a family group of between five and eight, sometimes more. they move through the garden in a loose flock, constantly calling to keep in contact with each other. They are quick movers, hopping quickly through the foliage, along the ground, across branches or wherever they are feeding at the moment. If one looses close contact with the rest it with fly low and fast to make contact with the group again.
Because they are always on the move I have had a challenge getting good photos of them. On this post I have two reasonable photos but they are still not great. I guess I’ll just have to keep on trying.
I’ve written a number of times about the birds that come to visit the bird baths in our garden (see the links below).
We are constantly delighted to see the stream of honeyeaters, pardalotes, parrots and many other species that come to drink. Some linger awhile to bathe. Some are tentative in their approach, others come in boldly, chasing away any who may linger too long.
White-browed Babblers are frequent visitors to our garden. They come in their family group, scuttling through the low bushes, scurrying up the branches of the mallee trees searching for insects and spiders and filling the air with their cat like calls.
From time to time their foraging antics bring them close to the bird bath. Sometimes they get as close as a metre away. I have never seen them land on the bird bath, let alone take a drink or bathe.
I recently read a series of posts on the Birding-Aus forum that many species of birds do not need to drink, or drink very infrequently. They manage to gather enough moisture from the insects, beetles and spiders they eat.
- Birds in the heat – birds that visit during hot weather
- Birds and communal bathing – water wasters at work
- Time for a bath – a long list of birds and animals which come to our bird baths
Updated November 2013, and September 2015
In recent times I have written about the behaviour of various species of birds at the bird baths we have in our garden. The birds give us many hours of entertainment as they come to drink and bathe. The very hot weather we have been having this summer helps to encourage their frequent visits.
I also wrote recently about some unusual visitors to the bird baths, a Stumpy Tail Lizard and a Red Fox.
A few days ago I was alerted to the alarm calls of a flock of New Holland Honeyeaters near the bird bath. I quietly went to have a look. The NHHEs were soon joined by several Singing Honeyeaters and a family of White Browed Babblers. All were calling madly and looking at the ground near a bush.
I waited for a few moments, fully expecting a Brown Snake (highly venomous) to emerge from the undergrowth. I had my camera at the ready and my feet ready to take off if a hasty retreat was in order.
To my great relief it was only a Blue Tongue Lizard. With the stripes on the back and tail, and a thin, long snake-like tail we have often been fooled into thinking we have a Tiger Snake (also quite venomous) in the garden. (They actually look nothing like a Tiger Snake; it’s the stripes that catch you by surprise every time.)
The new visitor didn’t wait to have a drink. A slight movement from me sent it slithering – almost snake-like – into the undergrowth again.
- Some unusual visitors to our birth bath – with photos.
- Time for a bath – with more photos
Updated November 2103