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Grey-crowned Babbler - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Grey-crowned Chatterer; Red-breasted Babbler; Rufous-breasted Babbler (rubeculus)

Nominate subspecies
Photo by IanC
Inverell, New South Wales, Australia, October 2007
Pomatostomus temporalis


Subspecies rubeculus
Photo by tcollins
Darwin, Australia, November 2006

23 - 27cm (9-10¾ in). The largest Australasian Babbler:

  • Narrow grey crown bordered by broad white eyebrow
  • Dark brown eye stripe
  • Black, long and down-curved bill
  • Pale yellow eye
  • Greyish-brown upperparts, darker rump
  • Blackish-brown long tail with broad white tip
  • White throat and upper breast merging to grey breast
  • Rufous-brown belly

Sexes similar. Juveniles similar to adults but with shorter and less curved bill and dark brown eye.


  • Rubeculus has a rufous breast


Photo by Hans&Judy Beste
Taromeo, S.E. Queensland, Australia, March 2018

Southern New Guinea and northwest, north, central and east Australia.
Locally common.



Three subspecies accepted[1]:

  • P. t. strepitans:
  • P. t. temporalis:
  • P. t. rubeculus:

They are sometimes split into two species. Furthermore due to the clinal variation much more subspecies are described but usually not accepted.


Subspecies temporalis
Photo © by Ken Doy
Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, Queensland, Australia, June 2020

Dry open forest, scrubby woodlands, farmland with isolated trees and trees bordering roads.


They go around in family groups seeking out bugs to feed on, all the while making many curious calls, some that sound like kittens mewing or squeaky toys. Their method of locomotion is a comical bounce. At night they roost in communal nests but if some family members don't fit in the main nest they are turfed out and must use a nearby "guest" nest.


Feeds mainly on insects but takes also seeds, spiders, scorpions or small reptiles.


Breeding season mainly July to February but recorded in all months. Co-operative breeder. Lays 2 - 6 eggs.


Mainly resident but some evidence for nomadism.


Call: a ruff-ruff call, rather like a puppy.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553422
  3. Simpson, K and N Day. 1998. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-4877-5
  4. BirdForum Member observations

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