Family Mousebirds (Coliidae)

Least Concern

Red-faced Mousebird (Urocolius indicus)


French: Coliou quiriva German: Rotzügel-Mausvogel Spanish: Pájaro ratón carirrojo

Colius indicus


, 1790,

India; error = Gamtoos River, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa


Closely related to U. macrourus. W Angolan population has been separated as race angolensis, but now usually regarded as indistinguishable from lacteifrons; birds from SE DRCongo sometimes assigned race lualabae and those of N Botswana race ngamiensis, but both probably better included within mossambicus, or ngamiensis synonymized with transvaalensis. Some authors consider all Malawi and Zambia populations of this species to be referable to nominate indicus#R. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • U. i. lacteifrons (Sharpe, 1892) – coastal Angola (S from Cabinda) and most of Namibia.
  • U. i. mossambicus (Reichenow, 1896) – extreme SE DRCongo and SW Tanzania (around L Rukwa) S to SE Angola (N possibly to E Moxico), Zambia and Malawi (mainly in S).
  • U. i. pallidus (Reichenow, 1896) – coastal areas of extreme SE Tanzania and N Mozambique.
  • U. i. transvaalensis (Roberts, 1922) – SW Zambia, Zimbabwe and S Mozambique S to South Africa (except S).
  • U. i. indicus (Latham, 1790) – Western Cape Province E to R Great Kei.
  • Descriptive notes

    29–37 cm, including elongated tail of 19–25 cm; 32·5–78·9 g. Grey upperparts with greenish metallic sheen, especially on wings and tail, buff... read more


    Gives clear, melodious, bell-like whistles comprising 3–4 notes, which fall in pitch, e.g.... read more


    Typically savanna woodland, especially Acacia, frequenting wide range of scrub, bush and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly fruits, also leaves, buds, flowers and nectar; in South Africa, where regularly observed taking nectar of Aloe marlothii in... read more


    Nests found throughout year, but marked peak in austral spring/summer: Sept–Apr in Angola, Aug–Jan in Zambia, Jun–Jan in... read more


    Sedentary or locally nomadic; irruptions in dry season or during droughts detected in several areas... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and common in South Africa and Botswana; widespread and common in Zambia (except in W & NE); very common in SW Angola... read more

    Recommended citation

    de Juana, E. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Red-faced Mousebird (Urocolius indicus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 April 2020).