Cover photo: BirdPix 110 – Lia Steen
The Speckled Mousebird has sandy brown to ashy brown plumage feathers along its head and back and warmer brown feathers along its belly. It has long brown tail feathers and dark eyes and its bill is black on top and whitish underneath.
The northern sub-species has whitish ear coverts, pale eyes, and pinkish to red legs.
Speckled Mousebirds are quite vocal. They make a warbling tsu-tsu call while in flight, and are known for their tisk-tisk alarm call.
The Speckled Mousebird prefers open bushveld habitats. It is widespread in savanna and open woodlands, as well as areas with tangled thickets. It is a common “backyard bird,” often seen in urban gardens and orchards.
The Speckled Mousebird is the most widely distributed mousebird in Africa. It occurs from Cameroon to Ethiopia, through southern DRC, Tanzania, northern Zambia and northern Angola to southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is common in eastern Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa, largely excluding the arid Northern Cape Province. It is very adaptable, occurring in forest edges, thickets, gardens, orchards, strandveld, riverine woodland, and alien tree plantations.
It feeds on a wide variety of plant matter, especially fruit, but also flowers, nectar, leaves, buds and bark. It usually forages in the mid to upper tree canopy, often in groups of 5-20 birds.
Speckled Mousebirds can be monogamous or polygamous, meaning that the male can have one ore multiple mates. They are also a cooperative breeders, with 2-6 juvenile helpers, some of which are not related to the breeding couple. Courtship is fairly elaborate, with preening, bouncing up and down on a perch and exchanging of food.
The nest is a small, shallow bowl made of grass and herb stems, lined with soft material. It is typically placed 1-7 metres above ground in a tree or bush. The nestlings start to explore the branches surrounding the nest at about 10-11 days old, after which they start to preen each other. They stay in the nest for about 15-20 days, after which they become independent.
Species text from the first Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP1), 1997.
Virtual Museum (BirdPix > Search VM > By Scientific or Common Name).
More common names: Gevlekte muisvoël (Afrikaans); Indlazi (Xhosa); Fariki (South Sotho); Tshivhovo (Tsonga); Coliou rayé (French); Braunflügel-mausvogel (German); Gekraagde.
Recommended citation format: Loftie-Eaton M and Daniel KA 2022. Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus. Bird Feeder Project. Biodiversity and Development Institute. Available Online at http://thebdi.org/2022/08/08/speckled-mousebird-colius-striatus/