You are here

Speckled Mousebird

Colius striatus
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern on the IUCN Red List
Cameroon east to Eritrea and Ethiopia, south through eastern Africa to southern South Africa.
They are a common backyard bird, being seen in arid and urban areas like gardens and orchards.

Speckled Mousebirds are a dull, mousy brown on the back and head, with a crest. Their beak is black on the top and pinkish on the bottom. They eat fruit, berries, leaves, seeds, and nectar.

Speckled mousebirds are very social. They eat together, preen each other, take dust baths together, and sleep together. While sleeping, they roost in tight groups of around 20 birds and on cold nights they can become torpid (dormant, inactive, lethargic). This would make them a likely target for predators but the large group seems to deter most nocturnal predators. In the morning, they will sunbathe to raise their body temperature back up. They will fluff out their feathers, stand up tall, spread their wings, and puff out their chest.

They may breed anytime enough food is available. Courtship involves calling, preening, exchanging food and hopping or bobbing up and down. Their nest is a large and untidy cup, made of vegetable and animal matter, and possibly even cloth or paper. Their clutch is one to seven eggs (number may be dependent on latitude) and is most often three to four. The chicks are altricial and don’t open their eyes for a few days. Parents and other juveniles help feed the chicks. Their incubation period is around 14 days and after about a month, the nestlings will begin to forage on their own.

Image by Derek Keats of Flickr.  Licensed under Creative Commons cc-by 2.0.