If there’s one group of birds that just won’t let you be miserable it would have to be the Grey-crowned Babbler. It makes perfect sense that they are called Babblers, as that is exactly what they do. They are usually in a group and our garden regularly has a family group of eight visit it. They have listed under “Other names” in one of our field guides “Happy Family & Yahoo”! If you have any experience with these birds then it makes perfect sense. It is a shame that they could not keep their happiness to themselves until after six in the morning, but there are definitely worse sounds to wake up to. These are the largest Babblers in Australia and inhabit the area from the north-west of Western Australia right down the east coast. In the southern areas of Australia you may also encounter White-browed Babblers, which are smaller and duller. but still continue to chatter as they go about their daily life. Redgannet recently had an encounter with Large Grey Babblers near New Delhi and they are also a lively species to observe.

Grey-crowned Babblers have a communal nest and recently we found that there was one very close to Cable Beach in Broome in a car-park. They were busy nipping in and out and the sticks that had been used are substantial. It must have got cyclone rating on it, as we are now in our cyclone season.

Grey-crowned Babblers day nest

 Grey-crowned Babbler communal nest

Grey-crowned Babblers fly in a group and enter the garden one by one and they literally bounce on two feet around the garden babbling away to themselves. They hop up into trees and pull at bark to reveal insects and swing upside down on occasion to get to the areas they want to explore. They are by far the most cheerful bird species you could have visit.

Grey-crowned Babbler (4)

 One of the cheerful Grey-crowned Babblers

On one occasion recently an individual had a close encounter with our neighbour’s house wall and the children brought it around to us. It was no doubt on the run from our local Brown Goshawk, which is responsible for most of the collisions in our area. It appeared unharmed, but in more of a shock at first hitting the wall and then being picked up. Despite the young children thinking we should at least put a bandage on it somehow we convinced them that a dark box would be the ideal treatment. After some time we looked inside the box and it appeared to be recovered and we took it out and released it back into our garden. It could then re-join the family group and continue to enjoy the insects and grubs that our garden has to offer.

Grey-crowned Babbler

Grey-crowned Babbler (2)

Grey-crowned Babbler (3)

Grey-crowned Babbler released back into the garden

So, next time you hear a bit of a Yahoo going on….look around…you may be having a visit by a family group of Babblers!

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!