white-headed Mousebird (Colius leucocephalus)

Photo@Jacqui Harrington

Mousebirds, sometimes called colies, are an ancient group of small arboreal birds in Africa. They are so unique in morphological peculiarities that they were proposed as a separate Order of birds as long ago as 1872, and this placement has been confirmed by molecular evidence (Sibley & Ahlquist 1990, Hackett et al. 2008). They are the only Order restricted to sub-Saharan Africa.

In Kenya three species occurs,  White-headed, Blue-naped and Speckled Mousebird.There are only two genera among the mousebirds, and four of the six species are placed in Colius, including White-headed Mouse Bird  of east Africa (left). White-headed Mousebird, like most of this genus, is a bird of arid thornscrub. Its range is limited to a band of such thornscrub from s. Somalia to n.e. Tanzania. The most widespread species, Speckled Mousebird C. striatus, occurs more broadly in a variety of woodlands.

The three  species of Colius mousebirds are essentially allopatric in distribution, without any significant overlap, and where there is a little range overlap, they separate out by habitat.In Kenya it is found  in Samburu, Meru, Tsavo west and Tsavo East National Park.

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