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Colius striatus1.jpg
Speckled Mousebird, Colius striatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: Neornithes
Infraclass: Neognathae
Superorder: Neoaves
Order: Coliiformes
Murie, 1872
Family: Coliidae
Swainson, 1837
and see text


The mousebirds are a small group of birds. They are not closely related to other groups of birds. Though they and the parrots and cockatoos (Psittaciformes) may be closer to each other than to other birds. The mousebirds are given order status as Coliiformes. This group only lives in sub-Saharan Africa. They had a wider range in prehistoric times and apparently evolved in Europe.

Description[change | change source]

They are slender greyish or brown birds with soft, hairlike body feathers. They are typically about 10 cm in body length. They have a long, thin, tail a further 20–24 cm in length. They weigh 45–55 grams.[1] They are arboreal and scurry through the leaves like rodents, in search of berries, fruit and buds. This habit, and their legs, is the reason for the group's English name. They can feed upside down. They have crests and stubby bills.

Mousebirds are very talkative. They are found in bands of about twenty in lightly wooded country.

These birds build cup-shaped twig nests in trees, which are lined with grasses. 2–4 eggs are typically laid.

References[change | change source]

  1. Cunningham-Van Someren, G.R. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 138–139. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.