Indian Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus horsfieldii) ©WikiC
bab·bler – ˈbab(ə)lər/ – noun
- a person who babbles.
- a thrushlike Old World songbird with a long tail, short rounded wings, and typically a loud discordant or musical voice.
While reading in Ecclesiastes recently, I saw the word “babbler.” Working on the Birds of the World lists, that word caught my attention. Ahh! Maybe I could write an article about the Babblers that I had seen in the list.
A serpent may bite when it is not charmed; The babbler is no different. (Ecclesiastes 10:11 NKJV)
Chestnut-faced Babbler (Zosterornis whiteheadi) ©WikiC
What I did not know is that there are seven families that have “Babbler” birds in them. There are Ground Babblers, Wren Babblers, Thrush-Babblers, Scimitar Babblers, Jewel-babblers, Hill Babblers, Tit-Babblers, a Rail-babblers and regular just plain Babblers.
Then checking for more verses on “babblers,” I found two more. The verse above and this one both have a sort of negative meaning to the word.
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. (Proverbs 20:19 ESV)
There is one more verse that will come later. First, what is a Babbler of the bird kind?
Rail-babbler (Eupetes macrocerus) by Peter Ericsson
“The Old World babblers or timaliids are a large family of mostly Old World passerine birds. They are rather diverse in size and coloration, but are characterised by soft fluffy plumage. These are birds of tropical areas, with the greatest variety in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The timaliids are one of two unrelated groups of birds known as babblers, the other being the Australasian babblers of the family Pomatostomidae (also known as pseudo-babblers).
White-browed Babbler by Ian (Australia)
Morphological diversity is rather high; most species resemble “warblers”, jays or thrushes. This group is among those Old World bird families with the highest number of species still being discovered.
Timaliids are small to medium birds. They have strong legs, and many are quite terrestrial. They typically have generalised bills, similar to those of a thrush or warbler, except for the scimitar babblers which, as their name implies, have strongly decurved bills. Most have predominantly brown plumage, with minimal difference between the sexes, but many more brightly coloured species also exist.
The systematics of Old World babblers have long been contested. During much of the 20th century, the family was used as a “wastebin taxon” for numerous hard-to-place Old World songbirds (such as Picathartidae or the wrentit). Ernst Hartert was only half-joking when he summarized this attitude with the statement that, in the passerines, (Wikipedia)
“Was man nicht unterbringen kann, sieht man als Timalien an.” (What one can’t place systematically is considered an Old World babbler)
They finally started trying to divide them into different groups and families. You will find those seven families below. Also, from the definition at the beginning, they are vocal with a “typically a loud discordant or musical voice.”
Nepal Wren-Babbler (Pnoepyga immaculata) by Nikhil Devasar
The last verse I found with “babbler” gives us a more positive emphasis. The Apostle Paul was in Athens and:
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” (Acts 17:16-20 NKJV)
Are we “babblers” for the Lord like Paul? When people listen to us (or read what we write), do they hear a loud “discordant sound” or a clear “musical note”? We have no control how the words are heard. Some may consider the Words of Jesus as just another belief system in the world, while others will hear the Words as joy to their souls. We are told to tell others about Christ. So, Who do we “Babble” for?
Eupetidae – Rail-babbler – 1
Pellorneidae – Fulvettas, Ground Babblers – 40+ Wren Babblers, Thrush-Babbler, Scimitar Babbler, Babblers
Pnoepygidae – Wren-babblers – 5 Wren-babblers
Pomatostomidae – Australasian Babblers – 5 Babblers
Psophodidae – Whipbirds, Jewel-babblers and Quail-thrushes – 4 Jewel-babblers
Sylviidae – Sylviid Babblers – 6 Hill Babblers, Thrush-Babblers, and Babblers
Timaliidae – Babblers – 55 Scimitar Babblers, Wren-Babblers, Tit-Babblers and Babblers