Babblers have long been admired for their appearance, songs, and behavior. One aspect of this admiration has been the compulsion to keep them in captivity. The enormous volume of commercial trade in living babblers has caused increasing concern. At the same time, over 30 species have been hatched in captivity.
Some Chinese babblers, especially laughing thrushes (Garrulax sp.) and parrotbills (Paradoxornis sp.) cause some damage to crops, but this appears to be minor, and offset by insect control by these same birds. On the other hand, babblers are playing an increasingly important role in the developing economy of ecotourism. Such species as the fire-tailed myzornis are specifically featured in advertisements enticing trekkers to Nepal and Bhutan, already attracted simply by the potential of seeing great numbers of species in the foraging "bird waves" that sweep across the Himalayas. As ecotourism continues to grow, increasing numbers of people from around the world will enjoy the magnificent mixed choruses of otherwise unobtrusive brown babblers in Borneo or Myanmar, search for Madagascar's peculiar endemics, observe the colonial nesting of fantastic-looking picathartes in Ghana or Gabon, and search for laughing thrushes only recently unknown to science in the highlands of Vietnam. At the same time, vigorous efforts are being made by environmentalists in these countries to instill pride in a precious natural heritage.
1. Crossley's babbler (Mystacornis crossleyi); 2. Yellow-naped yuhina (Yuhina flavicollis); 3. Red-billed leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea); 4. Golden-breasted fulvetta (Alcippe chrysotis); 5. Black-crowned barwing (Actinodura sodangorum); 6. Bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus); 7. Fire-tailed myzornis (Myzornis pyrrhoura); 8. Vinous-throated parrotbill (Paradoxornis webbianus); 9. Yellow-headed rockfowl (Picathartes gymnocephalus); 10. Redheaded rockfowl (Picathartes oreas). (Illustration by Bruce Worden)
1. Hwamei (Garrulax canorus); 2. Chestnut-backed scimitar-babbler (Pomatorhinus montanus); 3. Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata); 4. Pygmy wren-babbler (Pnoepyga pusilla); 5. Arabian babbler (Turdoides squamiceps); 6. Flame-templed babbler (Stachyris speciosa); 7. White-crested laughing thrush (Garrulax leucolophus); 8. Yellow-throated laughing thrush (Garrulax galbanus); 9. Rufous-winged akalat (Trichastoma rufescens); 10. Omei Shan liocichla (Liocichla omeinsis). (Illustration by Bruce Worden)
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