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.

Taita Apalis (Apalis fuscigularis)

photo@Michael Sammut

Taita Apalis (Apalis fuscigularis), a Critically Endangered bird endemic to patches of natural forest in the Taita Hills of Southern Kenya. The entire world range of the Taita Apalis is less than 500 ha (5 km²).

The Taita Hills of South Eastern Kenya are the northernmost reach of the Eastern Arc, one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots (Mittermeier et al. 2004). Human impact is strong in the Taita, where deforestation hits 95% or more (Rogo & Oguge, 2000). The Taita are one of the key sites for biodiversity conservation in Kenya, with numerous endemic plants, vertebrates and invertebrates.