Family Mousebirds (Coliidae)

Least Concern

Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus)


French: Coliou rayé German: Braunflügel-Mausvogel Spanish: Pájaro ratón común

Colius striatus

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Races can be divided into three groups: “nigricollis group” in NW part of range, “leucotis group” of E, and “striatus group” of S; each group possibly approaching species level, given rare occurrence of hybridization and nearly complete lack of intergradation in contact areas; within groups, however, races often intergrade. Race erlangeri often merged with leucotis, ugandensis sometimes with kiwuensis, berlepschi with affinis, and integralis with minor; simulans sometimes synonymized with integralis#R. Birds with reddish-brown upperparts and breast from Mt Marsabit and Chyulu Hills (Kenya), sometimes separated respectively as races marsabit and chyulu, now generally merged with kikuyensis; those from Mt Kilimanjaro (N Tanzania) previously separated as race marangu, but probably a hybrid population and generally placed with cinerascens; and those from NW Zambia, described as race lungae, now normally included in congicus. Nineteen subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. nigricollis Vieillot, 1817 – Western Speckled Mousebird – E Nigeria (E of R Niger and Jos Plateau) E to SW Central African Republic and S to W Angola (Cabinda S to N Namibe) and SW DRCongo; records from Ghana (Mole National Park) and Ivory Coast (S of Vavoua)#R require confirmation#R.
  • C. s. leucophthalmus Chapin, 1921 – SE Central African Republic, NE DRCongo and SW South Sudan.
  • C. s. leucotis Rüppell, 1839 – Eastern Speckled Mousebird – E Sudan (Blue Nile), Eritrea and N Ethiopia.
  • C. s. hilgerti Zedlitz, 1910 – NE Ethiopia, Djibouti and extreme NW Somalia.
  • C. s. erlangeri Zedlitz, 1910 – E South Sudan and C & SW Ethiopia.
  • C. s. jebelensis Mearns, 1915 – South Sudan, extreme NE DRCongo and N Uganda.
  • C. s. kiwuensis Reichenow, 1908 – area between L Albert and L Tanganyika, in E DRCongo, W Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
  • C. s. ugandensis van Someren, 1919 – S Uganda, W Kenya and extreme NW Tanzania.
  • C. s. kikuyensis van Someren, 1919 – C Kenya Highlands and nearby N Tanzania.
  • C. s. mombassicus van Someren, 1919 – S Somalia, SE Ethiopia#R, coastal E Kenya and NE Tanzania.
  • C. s. congicus Reichenow, 1923 – SE DRCongo (Kasai Oriental E to L Tanganyika) S to NE Angola and NW Zambia.
  • C. s. cinerascens Neumann, 1900 – CN, W & C Tanzania and far NE Zambia (at Mbala)#R.
  • C. s. affinis Shelley, 1885 – coastal E Tanzania.
  • C. s. berlepschi E. J. O. Hartert, 1899 – S Tanzania, NE Zambia and Malawi (except far S)#R.
  • C. s. simulans Clancey, 1979 – extreme S Malawi (S from Zomba)#R, and C Mozambique (along R Zambezi valley).
  • C. s. rhodesiae C. H. B. Grant & Mackworth-Praed, 1938 – highlands of E Zimbabwe and adjacent Mozambique (Manica and Sofala).
  • C. s. integralis Clancey, 1957 – SE Zimbabwe, S Mozambique (S to Delagoa Bay) and NE South Africa (NE KwaZulu-Natal).
  • C. s. minor Cabanis, 1876 – E South Africa (most of North West and Limpopo Provinces), Swaziland and extreme S Mozambique.
  • C. s. striatus J. F. Gmelin, 1789 – Southern Speckled Mousebird – S South Africa (Western Cape Province E to R Great Kei).
  • Descriptive notes

    30–36 cm, including elong­ated tail of 17–24 cm; 36–80 g (usually c. 50–55 g). Drab plumage, basically warm brown to ashy brown, buffier below,... read more


    Very vocal and garrulous in defending breeding territory and before departing to feed, but... read more


    Forest edges and clearings, and abandoned cultivations and secondary growth in evergreen forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mousebirds are among the smallest folivorous birds. Mainly fruit, both ripe and unripe, also foliage, buds, flowers, blossoms, nectar, bark... read more


    Lays throughout year, although seasonal peaks usually apparent: in S Africa in Aug–Jan, with very few nests in other months, but... read more


    Highly sedentary, with territory of c. 1 ha, mean home range of c. 3·5 ha (1·7–... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Most widely distributed and perhaps most successful of all mousebirds; widespread and common to very common throughout most of range... read more

    Recommended citation

    de Juana, E. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus). 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 20 November 2018).