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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

White-backed Mousebird

Afrikaans name: Witkruismuisvo√ęl

White-backed Mousebird

White-backed Mousebird

Photo © AdobeStock

Colius colius

The White-backed Mousebird is one of only six species of mousebird in the world. It is found in the western half of South Africa, most of Namibia and wanders slightly into Botswana. These mousebirds are familiar garden birds in many areas, but they are also found in scrub, riverine bush and farmyards. They are particularly attracted to orchards.

They are normally seen in small flocks which move between bushes one by one keeping in contact with a chattering call. They have short legs and tend to hang from twigs while they feed. They can also be seen upside-down or at other strange angles and can be quite amusing.

The flock keeps moving from one tree or bush to another as they look for food. At other times they perch at the top of the bush seemingly to warm up in the sun. White-backed Mousebirds feed on a variety of foods such as soft fruit, nectar, some seeds, juicy leaves and flowers. They do occasionally eat insects. Although they normally search for food in bushes they can be seen on the ground as well.

They breed in all months of the year, but spring is the most common time. They make a small bowl-shaped nest low down in a bush or tree. Normally 2 to 4 whitish eggs are laid. Occasionally there are more, and this may be the result of more than one female using the same nest. The chicks are attended to by both parents.

Find out more about mousebirds.

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