(Coliidae; Ϯ White-backed Mousebird C. colius) Gr. κολοιος koloios  jackdaw. The relevance of this name to the Afrotropical mousebirds is unclear and probably arbitrary. Early authors placed Colius amongst the Fringillidae, allied to Pyrrhula and Loxia ("Colios cum Fringillis (Loxiis) conjungi volunt Auctores, et re vera illis satis affines sunt, nec characteres hucusque dati ad distinguendos eos sufficiunt, si vero pedum structura, qualem eam ex Colio Senegalensi descripsi, omnibus Coliis eadem est, genus peculiare satis firmat" (Illiger 1811)). Burchell 1822, thought it close to Corythaix in the Musophagidae, as did Nitzsch 1840 (who considered Opisthocomus to be in the same group). Wallace 1856, from a study of their habits, linked them to the parrots Psittacidae, and Huxley 1867, placed them near the cuckoos in the Coccygomorphæ. Garrod 1876, summarised previous works and, from an anatomical study, considered the Coliidae to be related on the one hand to the woodpeckers Picidae, and on the other to the kingfishers Alcedinidae and hornbills Bucerotidae (cf. κολιος kolios variant form of κελεος keleos  woodpecker (see Moehring above)). Current evidence mirrors Garrod's findings and suggests that the mousebirds are nested within the Coraciimorphae. Dowsett 1988, suggests the name is from Gr. κολεος koleos  scabbard or sheath, alluding to the long tails of these birds;  "GROENSPECHT, in 't Latyn Colius.  Zie deezen Vogel by SEBA, in zyn Thes. I. t. 60. f. 5. ["Avicula Americana Colubritis" = Cyanerpes] & T. II. t. 3. t. 70. f. 8. ["Avicula de Tatac", = ?miscoloured Chlorophanes]" (Moehring 1758); "Colius. Genus 36.  ...  SECTIO II.  Eæ quæ mandibula donantur superiore adunca.  BINA Avium genera sectionem istam constituunt. Aliæ rostro donantur superne convexo, subtus palniusculo, ut Colius: aliæ vero rostro superne & inferne convexo, ut Pyrrhula.  Le genre du Coliou.  Genus Colii.  ...  LE COLIOU DU CAP DE BONNE ESPÉRANCE  ...  COLIUS CAPITIS BONÆ SPEI" (Brisson 1760); "LES COLIOUS. (COLIUS. Gm.) (2)  ...  (2) Kολοιος, nom grec d'une petite espéce de corneille" (Cuvier 1817); "Colius Brisson, Orn., 1, 1760, p. 36; 3, p. 304. Type, by tautonymy, Loxia colius Linné." (Peters 1945, V, 143). 
Var. Collus.
Synon. NecrornisRhabdocolius.

Search for more names on the Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology by James A. Jobling.
Recommended citation
Jobling, J. A. (2018). Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology. In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2018). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 15 December 2018).