Yellow-billed Babbler Turdoides affinis
Version: 2.0 — Published September 17, 2020
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Yellow-billed Babblers are gregarious throughout the year. Nothing is known about the formation of the breeding pair in a flock.
Breeding occurs throughout the year, with one clear peak between March and May, and a second smaller peak between August and November (20).
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.
The nest is built by the breeding female and male, as well as the other members of the flock (4).
Structure and Composition
Nests measures 8 cm wide and 5 cm deep (4)
Maintenance or Reuse of Nests
Average size of the eggs is 24 x 18.8 mm (n = 60; 21).
Color and Surface Texture
Eggs described as turquoise blue (4).
Onset of Broodiness and Incubation in Relation to Laying
Incubation starts immediately after the first egg is laid (4).
Incubation lasts 14-17 days (4).
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
Preliminary Events and Vocalizations
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
Condition at Hatching
Growth and Development
Sex Ratios and Sex Allocation
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.
Carrying of Eggs or Young
Brood Parasitism by Other Species
Identity of the Parasitic Species
Frequency of Occurrence
There is no quantitative data available for Yellow-billed Babbler.
Seasonal or Geographic Variation
Timing of Laying in Relation to Host's Laying
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.
Fledglings leave the next after 10 to 12 days (4). Not much else is known about the fledgeling stage.