Open Access
1 December 2007 Nesting and Cooperative Breeding Behaviours of a High-Altitude Babbler, Tibetan Babax Babax koslowi
Xin Lu, Xuhui Ma, Liqing Fan
Author Affiliations +

The Tibetan Babax is a high-altitude babbler endemic to the NE Tibetan plateau. This is the first report of the species nesting behaviour: the study was based on information gathered during 2005 and 2006 in the upper Mekong River basin (32°N, 96°E, 3700–4300 m.a.s.l.), S Qinghai. The birds nested low (< 2 m) in conifers and laid eggs from early May to late July. The clutch size was 3–4 eggs. Nestlings fledged at 13–14 days, when they reached 52% of the adult female weight. In all four nesting attempts (three nests and one post-fledging social unit), more than two birds (3-6) were observed feeding the young or guarding the nest against conspecific intruders or potential predators. These results indicate that all three member species of the genus Babax (the two others are the high-altitude Giant Babax and the lowland Chinese Babax) display a cooperative breeding system. This provides a good example of phylogeny as a component responsible for the evolution of cooperative breeding behaviour.



J. R. Brown 1987. Helping and Communal Breeding in Birds. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. Google Scholar


A. Cibois 2003. Mitochondrial DNA phylogeny of babblers (Timaliidae). Auk 120: 35–54. Google Scholar


A. Cockburn 2006. Prevalence of different modes of parental care in birds. Proc. R. Soc. Lond., Ser. B. 273: 1375– 1383. Google Scholar


S. T. Emlen 1982. The evolution of helping. I. An ecological constraints model. Am. Nat. 119: 29–39. Google Scholar


S. T. Emlen 1994. Benefits, constraints and the evolution of the family. TREE 9: 282–285. Google Scholar


A. J. Gaston 1977. Social behaviour within groups of jungle babblers (Turdoides striatus). Anim. Behav. 25: 828–848. Google Scholar


IUCN . 2005. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. Google Scholar


J. D. Ligon , D. B. Burt 2004. Evolutionary origins. In: W. D. Koenig , J. L. Dickinson (eds). Ecology and Evolution of Cooperative Breeding in Birds. Cambridge Univ. Press, pp. 5–34. Google Scholar


X. Lu 2004. Conservation status and reproductive ecology of Giant babax Babax waddelli (Aves, Timaliinae), endemic to the Tibet plateau. Oryx 38: 418–425. Google Scholar


R. E. Ricklefs 1975. The evolution of cooperative breeding in birds. Ibis 117: 531–534. Google Scholar


A. J. Stattersfield , M. J. Crosby , A. J. Long , D. C. Wege 1998. Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priority for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge. Google Scholar


J. Tang 2006. Provisioning behaviours and nestling diet of nine passerine species in alpine habitats around the mid-Yalong Zangbo River, Tibet. MSc thesis Wuhan Univ., China. Google Scholar


J. R. Walters , C. B. Cooper , S. J. Daniels , G. Pasinelli , K. Schiegg 2004. Conservation biology. In: W. D. Koenig , J. L. Dickinson (eds). Ecology and Evolution of Cooperative Breeding in Birds. Cambridge Univ. Press, pp. 197–209. Google Scholar


Z. K. Wu 1986. The Avifauna of Guizhou, China. Guiyang: Guizhou People's Publishing House. Google Scholar


X. W. Yuan , Y. T. Liu 1998. Cooperative breeding behavior of Taiwan yuhinas (Yuhinas brunneiceps). In: Wild Bird Society of Taibei (ed.). Proc. 3rd Ornithol. Symp. Mainland China and Taiwan. Wild Bird Society of Taibei, Taibei, pp. 91–110. Google Scholar


H. W. Yuan , M. Liu , S. F. Shen 2004. Joint nesting in Taiwan yuhinas: a rare passerine case. Condor 106: 862–872. Google Scholar


Z. X. Zheng , B. L. Zheng , Z. Y. Long 1987. Fauna Sinica, Aves. Vol. XI, Timaliinae. Science Press, Beijing. Google Scholar


H. W. Zuo , Y. Z. Tian , S. Li 1995. Nesting biology of Chinese Babax Babax lanceolatus. J. Liupanshui Teach. Coll. 4: 6–10. Google Scholar
Xin Lu, Xuhui Ma, and Liqing Fan "Nesting and Cooperative Breeding Behaviours of a High-Altitude Babbler, Tibetan Babax Babax koslowi," Acta Ornithologica 42(2), 181-185, (1 December 2007).
Received: 1 March 2007; Accepted: 1 November 2007; Published: 1 December 2007
Babax koslowi
cooperative breeding
nesting biology
Tibetan Babax
Back to Top