Babblers of the Bush
If you walk through the Karri forests around Denmark, occasionally you may hear something of a commotion going on, with a group of birds cackling and chattering as they search for food under the loose bark of the karri trees. There are often up to about a dozen birds, but they can be difficult to spot in the dense bush, if you wait, they may appear in a clearing or foraging along the track, medium sized brown birds with a prominent white eye-stripe, white throat and breast. They are White-browed Babblers and travel and forage in family groups.
The word ”Babbler” is related to talking or making sounds like a baby, and is not thought to be related to the Biblical “Babel”, Babblers no doubt understand one another’s babbling!
They feed on arthropods, mainly insects and spiders, but they will also search out ant and termite nests on the ground, excavating them with their powerful sickle-shaped beak to feast upon their eggs.
They are known to build two types of nest, one in which the breeding female incubates the eggs, the other is constructed to act as a night nest in which up to 8-birds may roost. They are large domed structures, 40cm high and 30cm wide, made of twigs, bark and insect cocoons on the outside and lined with a thick layer of soft grass on the inside. White-browed Babblers are monogamous, but form cooperative breeding groups comprising two to four breeding pairs and between two and eight “helpers”. Whilst all the birds participate in nest building and feeding the chicks, only the breeding female incubates the eggs and broods over the young.