Turdoides jardineii (Arrow-marked babbler) 

Pylvlekkatlagter [Afrikaans]; iHelkehle [Zulu]; Siwerewere (generic term for babbler) [Kwangali]; Dywedywe, Hochahocha [Shona]; Inhlekabafazi (in Zulu this name is applied to Green wood-hoopoe) [Swazi]; Tlekedhwana [Tsonga]; Letshêganôga [Tswana]; Pijlpuntbabbelaar [Dutch]; Cratérope fléché [French]; Braundroßling [German]; Zaragateiro-castanho [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Sylviidae > Genus: Turdoides

Turdoides jardineii (Arrow-marked babbler) Turdoides jardineii (Arrow-marked babbler)

Arrow-marked babbler. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

Arrow-marked babbler. [photo Philip Fourie ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Uganda through Angola, Tanzania, northern Mozambique and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is locally common, preferring clumps of bushes and thickets amongst termite mounds in moist savanna woodland. It also occupies dry riverine woodland, disturbed woodland with dense grass (typically on the border of farmland), reedbeds, alien tree plantations and farm and suburban gardens.

Distribution of Arrow-marked babbler in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Levaillant's cuckoo.


It mainly eats invertebrates, doing most of its foraging in groups on the ground and in the undergrowth, flicking through leaf litter and gleaning from leaves and branches. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • It is a cooperative breeder, building a messy cup (see image below) of twigs, dry grass, plant stems and leaf petioles lined with finer material. It is typically placed in the dense foliage of a tree, bush, pile of driftwood, reedbed or a cavity in a dead tree.
Turdoides jardineii (Arrow-marked babbler)  

Arrow-marked babbler nest with eggs, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is year round, peaking around September-April.
  • It lays 2-5, usually 3 eggs, which are incubated by all group members for about 13-17 days.
  • The chicks are cared for and protected by all group members, leaving the nest after about 18-21 days. They tend leave earlier if the group size is larger.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

  • Harrison, J.A., Allan, D.G., Underhill, L.G., Herremans, M., Tree. A.J., Parker, V. & Brown, C.J. (eds). 1997. The atlas of southern African birds. Vol. 2: Passerines. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.



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