Killer babblers

To: "" <>
Subject: Killer babblers
From: Jack Worcester <>
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 2016 12:01:47 +0000
Hi Greg,

I have witnessed the near-murder of a babbler by its own group.

I regularly enjoyed watching the antics of our resident group of 7
Grey-crowned Babblers on the outskirts of Biloela. One evening I arrived at
the house to frenzied bird activity in a silky oak and noticed a
Grey-crowned Babbler dangling upside down on a branch, it's leg caught in a
piece of bailing twine. The other 6 members of the group were attacking the
7th member by mobbing it, savagely pecking the back of its head and calling
aggressively. Two Blue-faced Honeyeaters were also in the tree and were
clearly agitated but did not attack. The poor guy seemed to be resigned to
his fate and put up no resistance.

Normally I would be reluctant to interfere with natural animal behaviour
but seeing as this guy was the victim of human litter I climbed the tree
and carefully cut him free. As I released him he flew to a single tree on
the edge of a paddock, which did not contain a nest, and stayed there the
night. The rest of the group slept the night in their regular nest beside
the house.

The next day the group numbered 7 again, the previous days violence
seemingly forgotten, with only a few missing feathers as evidence.

I have seen birds attack others which are behaving strangely or look
different - I remember when Common Mynas first appeared in our area, only
to be constantly harassed by most other birds, seemingly because they were
different. Within a few months they were largely ignored / accepted as

I suspect the Babbler in my observation was acting distressed in its
attempts to escape the twine, it's behaviour bringing it to the attention
of the group. Although the catalyst for this attack is most likely
different to that which your emailer observed, it serves as evidence that
Grey-crowned Babblers will certainly attack their own species, even members
of their own group, with the intent to kill.

Jack Worcester
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