The Speckled Mousebird
, Colius striatus
, is quite gregarious and very social. They engage in mutual preening and feed together in groups. They scamper mouse-like along branches and climb using their bills and feet. They can also be seen dust bathing on the ground where sometimes they eat soil, possibly for the minerals and swallow pebbles to assist digestion. They are fond of sunbathing, often conspicuously perched to catch the first rays of the morning sun.
They feed on fruit, leaves, seeds, nectar and berries.
Mousebirds clusters to sleep between sunset and sunrise. They have also been seen to cluster during the day, even at high ambient temperature. Whereas clustering at night and during cold, wet weather allows the birds to maintain body temperature at a reduced metabolic cost, clustering during the day is probably related to maintenance of social bonds within the flock. Group roosting also helps protect them against predators.
This mousebird prefers open bushveld habitats. It is widespread in savanna and open woodlands, as well as areas with tangled thickets. It is a common "backyard bird", often seen in urban areas if they contain gardens and orchards. They are generally the first birds to arrive at the fruit feeding station after we put out any soft fruit, apples, pears and papaya being firm favourites.
They may breed at any time of the year. The nest is a relatively large and untidy cup comprised of vegetable and animal material, sometimes including cloth and paper and is constructed by both the male and female. The clutch usually averages around 3 or 4 eggs. Nestlings are fed not only by both parents but also by juveniles from previous clutches. The incubation period takes 14 days and the offspring will leave the nest for the first time at about 17 or 18 days. After a little over a month, the nestlings will begin foraging for themselves.
They have a live expectancy of close to 10 years. They fall prey to eagles, falcons and owls.