The Red-faced Mousebird inhabits a wide range of habitats, from thickets in arid scrublands to mature riverine woodland, though they’re most commonly encountered in savanna-type vegetation. Ready access to drinking water is an important habitat requirement. They’re also common in orchards, suburban parks and gardens. It feeds on leaves, flowers, nectar, fruits and seeds, clambering about the branches of trees and shrubs in a rodent-like fashion, showcasing how this ancient family of uniquely African birds got their name. They love taking dustbaths and lazing on the ground in the full glare of the sun.
Usually moving around in small groups of up to a dozen birds outside of the breeding season, Red-faced Mousebirds form monogamous pairs during the spring and summer breeding season. Both partners work on the construction of the nest, an untidy cup-shaped collection of twigs, grass and leaves, in which a clutch of 1-7 eggs are incubated by both parents for a two week duration. The chicks grow very quickly, leaving the nest when they’re only 2-3 weeks old and becoming independent soon after. Fully grown, and including their tails, Red-faced Mousebirds measure around 32cm in length and weigh approximately 56g.
As it is a widespread and common species the IUCN considers the Red-faced Mousebird to be of least concern. They occur in all South Africa’s provinces, and beyond our borders as far north as Angola and southern Tanzania.