How many of Gloucester’s residents are aware of the Babbler Habitat, an area in Cemetery Road across from the Tucker Patch, that is fenced off to protect one of Gloucester’s hidden treasures from predation by foxes and cats?
And of the walking path that runs below it, with information signs and seats to relax and perhaps be lucky enough to see these interesting and amusing birds?
The grey-crowned babbler (aka happy Jack) truly is an amazing bird. It lives in family groups of two to twenty birds, with the "ideal" family size being around seven.
The birds are said to be able to string together sounds in different combinations to talk to each other, similar to the way human language is constructed.
They are delightful to listen to as they go about their daily business and constantly chatter to each other.
Each family is involved in building large round nests where they all roost together at night.
They may use a nest several times or only once but, when rearing young, they build a special nursery nest where the whole family co-operates to feed the nestlings.
Although there will be several adult females in the family, only the senior female will breed to produce the next generation.
Young females who want to breed have to leave the group to find a mate and start a new family in a different territory.
The bird is listed as vulnerable in NSW due to clearing of habitat and to feral predators, so it’s wonderful that there are several families not only in the Babbler Habitat that delight the volunteers at the Tucker Patch every day, but also at many locations in the district.
They need open eucalypt forest with shrubs and native grasses, within reach of other similar habitat with babbler families.
For more information, see https://tinyurl.com/ycorhd7f.
If you see a family anywhere, do inform Penny Drake-Brockman from the Gloucester Environment Group who has a special interest in these birds. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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