birding-aus More on Grey-crowned Babblers

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Subject: birding-aus More on Grey-crowned Babblers
From: "Gloria Glass" <>
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2000 14:22:24 +1000
I sent on recent messages to Jock Douglas, <> a grazier near Roma, whom I knew was especially interested in the social lives of Apostlebirds. I thought he would also have an interest in Babblers. He has sent me the following comments of his observations:
"Regarding babblers:
"We have had a group move in to our garden quite recently. There is at least one young bird in the group.  As the older birds extracted worms and other tasties from the garden soil with their curved beaks (like miniature ibis) this young bird would crouch near a hunter/gatherer, flutter and call in a quavering tone. The mature bird would then feed it. On one occasion after an older bird had fed it the younger bird followed its elder around and inserted its beak into the soil almost in unison. Learning by example, one presumes.
"Something I have noticed that babblers have in common with apostle birds is that they also play games.  Apostle birds play group tag games with leaves and twigs and appear to have a definite sense of fun and enjoyment.  Babblers seem to do likewise but tend to gymnastic exercises and pranks.  These don't appear to be part of any mating ritual, just good fun.  I was wondering if playing games like this is confined to the socially cooperative species of birds?  If it is does this mean that well advanced social behaviour with shared responsibilities promotes harmony, even happiness? (As compared with birds which have fiercer competition within their species.)  Or, are there other more logical reasons for this playful behaviour dictated by some evolutionary process?  There may be something important to learn from babblers and apostle birds Gloria and I'd be interested in your thoughts as a more experienced observer.  [Ha! ha! I'm obviously not as experienced as Jock!]
"Great rain here.  The biomass of green grass across Queensland must be doing wonders in converting carbon dioxide to oxygen not to mention ecosystem function! "
Gloria Glass
nr Toowoomba Qld
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