Bird of the Week – Week 117 – Bare-cheeked babbler

Within the southern African region the range of the Bare-cheeked babbler is very limited, the birds being found only in the north-west of Namibia. It is a “near-endemic” to the southern African region and its preferred habitat is Mopane woodland and the thick wooded areas found along dry watercourses.

Bare-cheeked babbler

They are much the same size as other babblers found in the region, with a length of about 24 cm and the sexes are alike in both size and plumage colouration. Wings, back and tail are brown; neck and rump rufus and under parts are white. The bill is black; eyes are lemon-yellow; and legs and feet grey-to-black. They have distinctive patches of bare black skin on their cheeks that contributes to the origin of their common name.

Bare-cheeked babbler

Bare-cheeked babblers are fairly common within their limited range and are quite sociable birds, usually found in small groups of up to six birds and they may be joined by other species as they move though the thickets in search of food. Chattering noisily, with all members of the group contributing to the babbling that so often is the first indication of their presence, they move quite quickly thorough the lower branches of the thickets, feeding on insects such as caterpillars and beetles.

Bare-cheeked babbler

Bare-cheeked babblers are monogamous and build a bowl-shaped nest from dry grass, lined with finer grass, that is placed about 2m above the ground. The female lays a clutch of two or three eggs and the nests may be parasitized by the Levaillant’s cuckoo (Clamator levaillantii).

Bare-cheeked babbler

The scientific binomial for the Bare-cheeked babbler is Turdoides gymnogenys; Turdoides from the Latin for “like a thrush”, and gymnogenys from the Greek for “bare-cheeked”. Thus the name describes a thrush like bird with bare cheeks, which is pretty accurate really.

Bare-cheeked babbler

One thought on “Bird of the Week – Week 117 – Bare-cheeked babbler

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *