Quite a Varied Group of Birds 
Babblers are a huge family which includes the most popular and well-known small softbill; the Pekin Robin.  Besides the Pekin, babblers include mesias, yuhinas, and laughing thrushes to name just  a  few.  Within many of the babbler species, there are numerous subspecies often making accurate visual sexing difficult at best, even in the few dimorphic species.  Many babblers make excellent and easy to care for softbills for the beginning softbill hobbiest.   None in the family make good handable pet birds though. At the Davis Lund Aviaries, we keep several species of babblers.
Family Snapshot
Classification:  Order Passeriformes, Family Timaliidae
Number of Species:  About 230 species
Native Land:  Mainly Asia
Native Habitat:  Various Forest Types
Diet In Aviculture:  Fruit, Pellets, Insects
Care Requirements:  Easy
Breeding Ease:  Easy   2   3   4   5   Very Difficult
Space Needec:  Medium to Large Cage/Flight/Aviary - very active birds!
Voice:  Quiet to Loud depending on the species; some have pleasant songs
Pet Quality:  Handraised birds can tame & touchable/approachable at best
The Pekin Robin (Leiothrix lutea)
Obviously the first babbler that should be discussed is the famous Pekin Robin.  Often called the Chinese or Japanese Nightingale and the Red-bill Leiothrix, this bird has even had its name "Pekin" frequently mispelled as Peking or Peeking.  Up until the late 1990's, most softbillers' first bird was the ever delightful Pekin Robin as it was the least expensive and most widely available softbill of them all.  They were imported by the hundreds and frequently seen in pet stores usually mixed with finches.  Extremely hardy, they survived even the most inadequate care. 
Above left:   Pekin Robins become quite tame and approach us closely to beg for mealworms.  They are difficult to breed, requiring large amounts of livefood and lots of  privacy.
CITES & Its Effects
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) is an agreement between many nations to regulate trade in species deemed "endangered".  This does not mean that the bird is necessarily in danger of extinction as many times a species is listed for various reasons, such as a way to ensure records of transports or a bird that is very common elsewhere may be listed by one country where it is an accidental only.  Once a country lists a bird on CITES, at any level (or appendix), the USA's highly regulatory Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA) from 1992 effectively stops all imports into our country.
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