Tag Archives: White-backed Mousebird

White-backed Mousebird

Colius colius

The White-backed Mousebird is the smallest of the three species of mousebird occurring in South Africa, with adults weighing in at about 30-55g and growing to 31cm long (including the elongated tail). They inhabit coastal fynbos, arid savannas and thickets in semi-desert, usually near rivers, as well as orchards and gardens, where they feed on buds, flowers, fruits and berries, seeds, leaves and nectar, often leading to conflict with farmers and gardeners. They very rarely forage on the ground, and then usually it is to feed on seeding grasses.

White-backed Mousebirds are social birds, moving around in groups of 2 – 10 (occasionally up to 40) and often mixing with the two other species of mousebirds sharing parts of their range. They breed throughout the year, with a peak in spring and early summer. The nest is an unneat cup built of plant material by both sexes. Clutches of 1-6 eggs are incubated by both parents for 2 weeks, with the youngsters becoming independent within 3 weeks of hatching. Young birds from previous broods often assist in raising the latest clutch.

White-backed Mousebirds are considered of least concern by the IUCN, owing to a common and increasing population which is also expanding its distribution range. They occur only in parts of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa (provinces of the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape, Free State and North West).