Australian Bush Birds
Chestnut-head Babbler  -  Pomatostomus ruficeps
Chestnut-head Babbler pausing while foraging with a group at Eulo, south west Queensland.
babbler babbler
Chestnut-head Babbler with the prominent chestnut head, white eyebrow stripes, white throat and chest.
map map The Chestnut-head Babbler - Pomatostomus ruficeps - (sometimes called the Chestnut-crowned Babbler) is 210-230 millimetres long with chestnut crown and back of the neck bordered by long, thin white eyebrow lines. Back and wings are brown-grey with two white bars on the wings. Tail is dusky, tipped white. Throat to belly is prominently white, edged with a dusky line and grading into the grey-brown back and belly; flanks are grey-brown; under tail is dusky spotted white. Eye is brown, bill is pointed and down turned, coloured black. Legs are dark grey. Males and females similar, immature adults are similar to mature adults but duller; eyebrow and wing bars suffused rufous.

This species can be identified from other babblers by the chestnut crown and white markings on the upper wings. In addition, the white line adjacent to the chestnut crown is narrower in this species,

The Chestnut-head Babbler lives in drier and more open country covered in mallee, mulga and belar woodlands in far inland south eastern Australia. Range includes southeastern Lake Eyre and the western Murray-Daring basin in southwest Queensland, western New South Wales and parts of eastern South Australia. This species prefers drier country than the White-browed or Hall's Babbler.

Like other Australian Babblers the Chestnut-head Babbler forms permanent flocks of 12 to 20 birds that forage together in the same territory, they hop noisily over ground litter and up branches of trees probing with the bill for insects, insect larvae and seeds.

Chestnut-head Babbler - page 2
Part of a Babbler group foraging for insects and seeds at Eulo, SW Qld.
More shy than other babblers they hop away into cover or depart in long, low glides. If alarmed by a potential predator they may huddle together under dense foliage. They roost together in disused nests and are thought to breed communally as well.

Breeds from July to December, or sometimes after substantial rain. The nest is a dome over 400 millimetres wide, with a side entrance, made of interwoven sticks and twigs and lined with bark fibres and animal and plant down. The nest is built in open forked branches 5 to 10 metres above the ground. Old nests may be repeatedly used with more material added.

Three to five eggs, rarely seven, are laid; pale grey-brown, covered with hair-lines of sepia and dusk. Oval, about 26 millimetres by 18 millimetres.

This is a sedentary species which is rather uncommon.

Common names include Chatterer and Red-capped Babbler.