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Speckled Mousebird - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies striatus (striatus subspecies group).
Photo © by John Dempsey
South Africa, 15 August 2004
Colius striatus


L. 35 cm. (14") the tail comprising approximately half the length.

Subspecies cinerascens (leucotis subspecies group).
Photo © by amesta
Tarangire NP, Tanzania, Africa, 26 June 2016


  • Black mask.
  • Dull mouse-brown color.
  • Prominent crest.
  • Bicolored bill, black upper mandible and whitish pink lower mandible.
  • Feet and legs purplish brown to pink.
  • Sexes alike.


Similar to adult but duller with shorter crest; lacks black eye patch.

Similar Species

Distinguished from White-backed Mousebird and Red-faced Mousebird by its bicolored bill, black eye patch and drabber brown color.


Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, south through eastern Africa to southern South Africa.


This is a polytypic species[1]. which may be divided into three subspecies Groups:

  • The nigricollis group in the northwest part of its range.
Hanging behaviour; subspecies kikuyensis (leucotis subspecies group).
Photo © by Steve G
Serena Mountain Lodge, Kenya, Africa, 6 July 2010
  • Pale culmen spot; forehead and throat blackish; breast and neck barred; feet red or pink.
  • The leucotis group in the East.
  • Bluish or whitish culmen spot; contrasting pale ear-coverts; barred to blackish throat; reddish feet.
  • The striatus group in the South.
  • All black upper mandible; lacks contrasting pale ear patch; lacks blackish throat.

These groups reportedly hybridize only rarely suggesting they may be full species[2].


Colius striatus has 17 subspecies[1]:


Open bush, savanna, open woodlands, thickets, orchards and gardens.



They are social birds and roost in groups of 20 or more at night. They sometimes hang from a branch with all four toes pointing forward. Flight weak and floppy. They reportedly go into a state of torpor or semi-hibernation to conserve energy, an adaptation for their low-calorie, fruit-based diet.


The diet includes fruits, berries, leaves, seeds and nectar.


Both sexes build a cup shaped nest of vegetable and animal material. 1 to 7 eggs (usually 3 or 4) are laid and incubated for 14 days. The young are fed by both parents and also by helpers, which usually consist of juveniles from previous clutches. Fledging takes place at 17 or 18 days. After a little over a month, the nestlings will begin foraging for themselves.


Scratchy, raspy "churrs" or harsh "zhrrik-zhrrik" given perched and in flight.


Sedentary. Local dispersal for food availability.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. de Juana, E. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55676 on 23 June 2018).
  3. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
  4. Sinclair, I., Hockey, P.A.R., and Arlott, N. (2005). The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town. ISBN 978-1775840992

Recommended Citation

External Links

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