Yellow-billed Babbler Turdoides affinis

Kulbushansingh Suryawanshi
Version: 2.0 — Published September 17, 2020


Welcome to Birds of the World!

You are currently viewing one of the free accounts available in our complimentary tour of Birds of the World. In this courtesy review, you can access all the life history articles and the multimedia galleries associated with this account.

For complete access to all accounts, a subscription is required.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in


Pair Formation

Yellow-billed Babblers are gregarious throughout the year. Nothing is known about the formation of the breeding pair in a flock.

Nest Building

Breeding occurs throughout the year, with one clear peak between March and May, and a second smaller peak between August and November (20).

Nest Site

The nest is built at a height of 1.2-6 m above the ground in thorny and bushy vegetation, often in thickets. Some of the trees used for nesting include Acacia leucophloea, Albizzia lebbeck (18), and Lantana camara.


Construction Process

The nest is built by the breeding female and male, as well as the other members of the flock (4).

Structure and Composition

Nest is a loose cup made of small twigs, rootlets, coarse grasses, green weeds, leaves, and old newspaper; they are lined with fine grasses, fern stems, or rootlets (2, 4, 16).


Nests measures 8 cm wide and 5 cm deep (4)


No information.

Maintenance or Reuse of Nests

No information.

Nonbreeding Nests

None recorded.



Average size of the eggs is 24 x 18.8 mm (n = 60; 21).


No Information.

Eggshell Thickness

No Information.

Color and Surface Texture

Eggs described as turquoise blue (4).

Clutch Size

Ranges from 2-6 with a mean of 3.1 (n = 80; 1), but each clutch usually has 3-4 eggs (1).

Egg Laying

No information.


Onset of Broodiness and Incubation in Relation to Laying

Incubation starts immediately after the first egg is laid (4).

Incubation Patches

No information.

Incubation Period

Incubation lasts 14-17 days (4).

Parental Behavior

Both sexes participate in incubation (4); more observations are needed to establish if helpers also contribute to incubation.

Hardiness of Eggs Against Temperature Stress: Effect of Egg Neglect

No information.


Preliminary Events and Vocalizations

No information.

Shell Breaking and Emergence

Hatching is staggered over 2 to 3 days. Once the chicks have hatched then the parents don't sit on them but stand at the edge. At roosting, only one bird stays with the nest (4).

Parental Assistance and Disposal of Eggshells

No information.

Young Birds

Condition at Hatching

No information.

Growth and Development

No information.

Sex Ratios and Sex Allocation

No information.

Parental Care

Brooding and Feeding

Both parents and helpers from the flock contribute to nest building and feeding the chicks (4). The primary diet of the young birds is insects and spiders (4) . Information on the role of helpers in incubation is lacking.

Nest Sanitation

No information.

Carrying of Eggs or Young

No information.

Brood Parasitism by Other Species

Identity of the Parasitic Species

Pied Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus) is likely the most common brood parasite of the Yellow-billed Babbler (4, 22, 23), followed by the Common Hawk-Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius; 24, 25)

Frequency of Occurrence

There is no quantitative data available for Yellow-billed Babbler.

Seasonal or Geographic Variation

No Information.

Timing of Laying in Relation to Host's Laying

No information.

Response to Parasitic Female, Eggs, or Nestlings

There is no evidence that Yellow-billed Babblers recognize parasitism of their nests. Several observers have reported Yellow-billed Babblers feeding the chick of the parasite even when none of their own chicks have survived (4, 23).

Effects of Parasitism on Host

Johnsingh and Paramanandham (19) observed that the number of eggs was reduced from four to two in a nest that was parasitized by a Pied Cuckoo. Eventually only one chick of the Pied Cuckoo hatched and the fate of the other egg was not know. The same group of babblers nested again within one month of fledging the cuckoo chick and successfully fledged two of their own chicks. The nestling of the parasite often evicts the chicks of the hosts (25, 4). However, there is no quantitative work on the impact of brood parasitism on the Yellow-billed Babblers.

Success of Parasite with this Host

There are several observations of Yellow-billed Babblers successfully raising the chicks of the parasite, but little quantitative data exists (4, 25). It is not clear if Yellow-billed Babblers care for parasites after the nestling stage, but there are observations of occasional feeding of parasite fledglings by Yellow-billed Babblers (23, 19). Johnsingh and Paramanandham (19) observed a cuckoo chick often roosted together with or very close to the babblers, but it was never preened before or after roosting.

Fledgling Stage

Fledglings leave the next after 10 to 12 days (4). Not much else is known about the fledgeling stage.

Immature Stage

No information.

Recommended Citation

Suryawanshi, K. (2020). Yellow-billed Babbler (Turdoides affinis), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.yebbab1.02