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Colius striatus (Speckled mousebird) 

Gevlekte muisvoël [Afrikaans]; Indlazi [Xhosa]; iNdlazi [Zulu]; Fariki (generic term for mousebirds) [South Sotho]; Tshivhovo [Tsonga]; Bruine muisvogel [Dutch]; Coliou rayé [French]; Braunflügel-mausvogel [German]; Rabo-de-junco-de-peito-barrado [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Coliiformes > Family: Coliidae

Colius striatus (Speckled mousebird)   
Speckled mousebird, Kleinmond, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]  

The Speckled mousebird is common in South Africa and Mozambique, where it is 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

Occurs from Cameroon to Ethiopia south, 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. It is very adaptable, occurring in forest edges, thickets, gardens, orchards, strandveld, riverine woodland and alien tree plantations.

Distribution of Speckled mousebird in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Jacobin cuckoo.


It feeds on a wide variety of plant matter, especially fruit but also flowers, nectar, leaves, buds and dead bark. It usually forages in the mid to upper tree canopy, often in groups of 5-20 birds. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • fruits
      • mistletoes (Loranthaceae and Viscaceae)
    • leaves
      • peaches
      • Acacia
      • Lycium (honey-thorns)
      • Senecio pleistocephalus (Scrambling senecio)
    • flowers
    • buds
    • dead bark
    • nectar
      • Aloe marlothii (Mountain aloe)
      • Aloe arborescens (Krantz aloe)
      • Aloe ferox (Bitter aloe)
      • Erythrina latissima (Broad-leaved coral-tree)


  • Can be monogamous or polygamous, meaning that the male can have one ore multiple mates. It is also a cooperative breeder, 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 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.
Colius striatus (Speckled mousebird)   

Speckled mousbird nest with eggs and chick, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from July-April, peaking from September-January.
  • It lays 1-7, usually 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 12-15 days. The pair change over every 0.5-2.0 hours, accompanied with a ritual display in which they both show open their beaks to show their gape.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents on 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 about 10-11 days old, after which they start to preen each other. They stay in the nest 15-20 days, after which they become independent.


Not threatened, in fact has benefited greatly from the spread of suburban gardens. It is regularly roadkilled, but this does not seem to have a significant affect on its population.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.