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Southern pied-babbler

Turdoides bicolor

Common name:
southern pied-babbler (en); zaragateiro-meridional (pt); cratérope bicolore (fr); turdoide bicolor (es); elsterdroßling (de)
Order Passeriformes
Family Timaliidae

This African species is only found in northern Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and northern South Africa.

Southern pied-babblers are 23-26 cm long and weigh 75-95 g.

They are found in arid and semi-arid savanna woodlands.

These birds eat a variety of insects, including beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, ants and termites. They also eat small frogs and reptiles.

They breed in August-April with a peak in September-November. Southern pied-babblers are cooperative breeder, living all year round in groups of 3-15 birds. Only the dominant pair breeds, but all group members help to build and defend the nest and feed the chicks. The nest is a large bowl built of creeper, grass stems and thin twigs, lined with finer material such as rootlets and hair. The nest is typically placed in a fork in the center of a thorny tree, such as a blue thorn Acacia erubescens, black thorn A. mellifera, scented thorn A. nilotica, umbrella thorn A. tortilis and buffalo-thorn Ziziphus mucronata. The dominant female lays 2-5 bluish eggs, which are incubated for roughly 16 days. The chicks are fed by all group members, fledging about 16 days after hatching, after which they remain dependent on the group for another 10 more weeks.

IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and, although the global population size has not been quantified, the species is described as locally common to very common. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation, but it is not considered threatened at present.
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