Hall's Babbler

Did you know?

The Hall's Babbler was only identified as a separate species in 1964, making it one of the most recent Australian birds to be identified. The type specimen was gathered on a collecting trip funded by Major Harold Wesley Hall, after whom the bird is named.

Calls
The Hall's Babbler constantly calls or 'clucks' while foraging, and has a loud 'buzz' alarm call that usually results in all the birds taking refuge in nearby trees.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
No
Minimum Size: 
19cm
Maximum Size: 
21cm
Average size: 
20cm
Average weight: 
40g
Breeding season: 
Possibly March to May and then again in August to October
Clutch Size: 
1 to 2
Conservation Status
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Atlas Number: 
938
What does it look like?
Description: 

The Hall's Babbler is dark brown all over except for very wide white eyebrows, a white bib from beak to mid-breast and white tips to its tail feathers. The tips make a V-shape when the tail is spread. The bill is grey-black and curves down. The iris is dark brown or red-brown and the legs and feet black. Babblers occur in small groups and the Hall's Babbler is no exception.

Similar species: 

The three other Australian babblers are fairly similar. The White-browed BabblerPomatostomus superciliosus, is most similar, being about the same size but has smaller eyebrows and a larger bib than the Hall's Babbler. The Chestnut-crowned BabblerPomatostomus ruficeps, has a very distinctive chestnut crown, much smaller eyebrows, a bigger bib and white lines in the wings. The Grey-crowned BabblerPomatostomus temporalis, is bigger than the Hall's Babbler, and its eyebrow fades into a grey crown.

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

The Hall's Babbler is confined to northwestern New South Wales and central and western Queensland. It occurs as far north as Winton and Boulia, west to McGregor and Grey Ranges, south to about Mootwingee and Brewarrina and the eastern boundary is Longreach-Idalia National Park-Cunnamulla.

Habitat: 

Tall acacia shrublands, usually Mulga, appears to be the preferred habitat of the Hall's Babbler, but it is occasionally seen in other arid woodlands and shrublands.

Seasonal movements: 

Hall's Babblers are thought to be sedentary or locally nomadic, but this Babbler was only identified in 1964 and not much is known about it.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

Hall's Babblers feed mostly on insects but feed on other invertebrates as well. They mainly feed on the ground, probing bark and dead wood and sometimes turning over stones. Occasionally they forage on the branches and trunks of trees, moving from the top downwards. Flocks stay together as a unit as they forage and move together to a new foraging ground. Large items of food are sometimes shared between two birds. The birds constantly call to each other while foraging, which is probably how the name 'babbler' arose.

Breeding: 

It is thought that during the breeding season that Hall's Babbler flocks of about 15 birds break up into smaller groups consisting of a breeding pair and one or more helpers. Several nests are constructed, some of which may be used as roost sites overnight, but only one is used for laying eggs. The nests, constructed of sticks with a domed roof and side entrance hole, are built in shrubs and trees about 5 m off the ground. Only one bird, assumed to be the female, incubates the eggs. Not much else is known about the breeding behaviour of these birds.

Living with us

Clearing of habitat removes the trees and shrubs that Hall's Babblers need for breeding. Grazing by introduced herbivores, such as cattle and sheep, changes the structure of the ground cover where the birds forage, hence affecting the prey that is available.

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