Family Mousebirds (Coliidae)

Least Concern

White-headed Mousebird (Colius leucocephalus)


French: Coliou à tête blanche German: Weißkopf-Mausvogel Spanish: Pájaro ratón cabeciblanco

Colius leucocephalus


, 1879,

Kinakomba, Tana River, east Kenya


Races sometimes merged. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. l. leucocephalus Reichenow, 1879 – SE Ethiopia, S Somalia, SE Kenya and adjacent area of NE Tanzania.
  • C. l. turneri van Someren, 1919 – NC Kenya (SE of L Turkana and Marsabit S to Isiolo District).
  • Descriptive notes

    29–31 cm, including elongated tail of c. 20 cm; male 31–42 g, female 28–39 g (mean of both sexes c. 35 g). Greyish, with creamy-white crown, crest and... read more


    Poorly described in the literature, but plaintive cries and a "rit-rit" in contact have... read more


    Dry thornbush vegetation in semi-arid areas, often thickets along watercourses. Usually at... read more

    Food and feeding

    Little information; eats fruits (e.g. Solanum), leaf buds and flowers (e.g. Acacia). Recorded in groups numbering 6... read more


    Laying recorded in Jul in Somalia, in Jun–Aug in SW & C Kenya, and in Feb, May–Jul and Nov in Tanzania. Nest an open cup of... read more


    Sedentary; possibly some nomadic and dispersive movements.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Relatively uncommon, with range fragmented in possibly four distinct areas; fairly common and widespread in coastal S Somalia, but... read more

    Recommended citation

    de Juana, E. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). White-headed Mousebird (Colius leucocephalus). 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 15 December 2019).