SPECKLED MOUSEBIRD

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Colius Striatus
SIZE: 85 – 98 cm

WEIGHT: 520g 

The Speckled mousebird is common in South Africa and Mozambique.  They are also rather common in suburban gardens. It is highly adaptable, and can be found in many types of habitats. It feeds on plant matter, mainly fruit, but also leaves, nectar and buds. The breeding pair is helped by 2-6 helpers, normally half of which are not related. The nest is a small bowl of grass, lined with soft material. It lays 1-7 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes, for 12-15 days. The nestlings start to explore the branches surrounding the nest at 10-11 days, staying in the nest for the first 4-10 days more, after which they become independent.

Distribution and habitat

Common in South Africa and Mozambique, with a small population in Zimbabwe. It is very adaptable, and can be found in forest edges, thickets, gardens, orchards, strandveld, riverine woodland and alien tree plantations.

Food

It feeds on a wide variety of plant matter – often fruit, but also flowers, nectar, leaves, buds and dead bark. It usually forages in the mid to upper canopy of trees, often in groups of 5-20 birds.

Breeding

It can be monogamous or polygamous, meaning that the male can have one or multiple mates. It is also a cooperative breeder, with 2-6 normally juvenile helpers, half of which are not related to the breeding couple. Courtship is fairly elaborate, with preening, bouncing up and down on perch, and exchanging of food.

The nest is a small, shallow bowl made of grass and herb stems, lined with soft material. It is usually placed 1-7 metres above ground, in a tree or bush.

Egg-laying season is in July-April, peaking from September-January.

It lays 1-7, usually 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes, for 12-15 days. Shift changes every 0.5 – 2 hours, with a ritual display of tongue or gape showing.

The chicks are fed by both parents, with a diet of regurgitated plant material, mixed with the chick’s faeces that the parents had eaten previously.

The nestlings start to explore the branches surrounding the nest at 10-11 days, after which they start to preen each other. They stay in the nest 15-20 days, after which they become independent.

Threats

Not threatened, in fact has benefited greatly from the spread of suburban gardens. It is a regular roadkill, but this does not seem to damage its numbers to much.