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Grey-crowned Babbler

(Pomatostomus temporalis)
Alternate name(s): "Grey-crowned Chatterer", "Temporal Babbler", "Rufous-breasted Chatterer", "Happy Family*", "Chatterer*", "Cackler*", "Barker", "Pine-bird", "Dog-bird", "Hopper", "Codlin-moth-eater", "Jumper", "Yahoo", "Parson-bird"; misnomers: "Apostlebird*", "12 Apostles*", "Catbird*"
Aboriginal name(s): "wirrbing"; Race "temporalis": "dhadhalurraa" [yuwaalaraay]
Note: Includes former "Red-breasted Babbler"

Size: 26-29 cm
Weight: 80 g (average)

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Grey-crowned Babbler at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information


Race "temporalis"


Frontal view of an adult Grey-crowned Babbler
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Frontal view of a Grey-crowned Babbler, different posture
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Near-frontal view of a Grey-crowned Babbler monitoring the sky for predators
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Near-frontal view of a Grey-crowned Babbler
[Narrabri, NSW, November 2010]

Lateral view of a Grey-crowned Babbler
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Lateral view of a Grey-crowned Babbler
[Narrabri, NSW, November 2010]

Dorsal view of a Grey-crowned Babbler
[Narrabri, NSW, November 2010]

Here a Grey-crowned Babbler seen foraging on the ground
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Whatever the Grey-crowned Babbler wanted, it had to dig it out of the soil
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2011]

Grey-crowned Babbler preening, seen against evening sunlight
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, August 2006]

A family of Grey-crowned Babblers has found something interesting
[Near Narrabri, NSW, 2005]

Family of Grey-crowned Babblers taking a bath (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Grey-crowned Babblers are gregarious and inquisitive birds (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Grey-crowned Babblers are gregarious and inquisitive birds (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

This Grey-crowned Babblers is fanning its tail, displaying the conspicuous white terminal band (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Direct comparison of the size of a Grey-crowned Babbler with a Willie Wagtail
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2016]


Frontal view of a juvenile Grey-crowned Babbler preening (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Lateral view of an immature Grey-crowned Babbler
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, September 2008]

Lateral view of the same Grey-crowned Babbler as shown above
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, September 2008]

Fledgling Grey-crowned Babbler, hardly able to fly and still stumbling along the branches of the tree in which it is hiding, while its parents go mad about the photographer in the vicinity
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2006]

Slightly different posture of the same fledgling Grey-crowned Babbler
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2006]

Race "rubeculus"


Lateral view of an adult Grey-crowned Babbler - note the reddish tint on the bird's breast giving this race its name; this is one of the birds whose calls were recorded on 6 August 2016 (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, August 2016]

Lateral view of Grey-crowned Babblers (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, August 2016]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Feb Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: 17 - 25 days Fledging age: 19 - 22 days


"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Dome Material: Sticks, with grass and/or feather lining Height above ground: 4 - 7 m

Grey-crowned Babblers sometimes nest in the lower part of a larger bird's nest (e.g. a raven's or a raptor's). They are known to be communal breeders. When building their own nest, we have found them to have a preference for Cypress pines.

Grey-crowned Babblers' nest (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Grey-crowned Babblers' nest in unusual surroundings, namely in a plane tree in a garden; the location of this nest was kindly reported to us by J. Faris
[Narrabri, NSW, March 2009]

Unusual Grey-crowned Babblers' nest, in an almost horizontal branch of an eucalypt tree above a dirt road
[Near Kenebri, NSW, January 2016]

This Grey-crowned Babbler nest was pinched by a pair of Blue-faced Honeyeaters (photo courtesy of R. Russell)
[Mount Molloy, QLD, June 2008]


"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 22 x 16 mm Colour: Light-brown with strong colour pattern Shape: Tapered oval


Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary Elementary unit: Family clan

Grey-crowned Babblers are gregarious birds that are almost always on the move and busy with something. Quite often they are seen by us together with a mob of Apostlebirds.

Grey-crowned Babbler TLC - these two birds are part of the clan whose calls were recorded on 5 February 2015
[Yarrie Lake, NSW, February 2015]

Many family units are happy to live in very little dense vegetation by roadsides, often with only one sufficiently large tree to provide them with shelter. In late October 2005 we spotted six separate groups in the area of Yarrie Lake and Bohena, West to South-West of Narrabri, along roadsides over a distance of only 20 km.

Food, Diet

Like all other babblers of the Pomatostomus family, Grey-crowned Babblers hunt for insects and their larvae in trees and on the ground.

Lateral view of a Grey-crowned Babbler that has caught a bush cockroach
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Grey-crowned Babbler taking water from a bird bath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2014]


For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

grcrbab_20150205.mp3 temporalis
Contact calls? © MD
grcrbab_20141128.mp3 temporalis
Q&A (various) © MD
grcrbab_20150205_5.mp3 temporalis
Alarm calls? © MD
grcrbab_20150429.mp3 temporalis
Clan bonding? © MD
grcrbab_20141206_1.mp3 temporalis
Begging calls (juvenile)? © MD
grcrbab_20141206.mp3 temporalis
Various © MD
grcrbab_20150205_2.mp3 temporalis
? © MD
grcrbab_20150205_3.mp3 temporalis
? © MD
grcrbab_20150205_4.mp3 temporalis
? © MD
grcrbab_20150205_6.mp3 temporalis
? © MD
grcrbab_jg_20160806.mp3 rubeculus
(central WA)
Contact calls? © JG

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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