Red-faced Mousebird

Urocolius indicus

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.

26 thoughts on “Red-faced Mousebird

  1. scrapydo2.wordpress.com

    Stoute voรซls, hul eet nie die vrugte klaar nie hul moet almal pik om net die lekker dele te kry. Dis nou al jare laas dat ek hul gesien het(10 jaar) hier is rosellas, meer n papagaaitjie wat ook so in groepies lawaaierig vlieg van lekker eetplek na die volgende een.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Dankie Ineke. Ja, dit is so dat muisvoels baie lastig en selfs n pes in n boord kan wees, maar ek geniet hul kaskenades so dat ek nie vir hulle kwaad kan wees daaroor nie.

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  2. naturebackin

    Lovely photos and I agree with Anne about the colour of the jasmine buds echoing the colour on the face of the bird. We very occasionally have speckled mousebirds visiting our garden (they used to be common here decades ago), but I have not see red-faced mousebirds around here so I enjoy seeing them in Zululand nature reserves.

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  3. Anne

    Your header picture is perfect – colour matching to a T! I have recorded red-faced mousebirds in our garden before, but not for about four years. They used to arrive to eat figs and other indigenous berries. Instead, the speckled mousebirds have made themselves very ‘at home’ here and I see them daily.

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