Harry’s advent calendar of birds, day 7: mousebirds

I just love this picture of mousebirds feeding on aloe flowers in South Africa:

I’m not quite sure about the species — Speckled Mousebird, maybe? — but it doesn’t matter. Here are some more mousebirds, showing their tails better:

The mousebirds are an African family of birds which are distantly related to parrots. They are great little beasts, with real personality, and as they clamber around the foliage in groups they do have a certain mousey quality to them.

They are also one of the very first genuinely ‘exotic’ birds I ever saw; on a family holiday to Kenya when I was quite young we flew into Nairobi and stayed the night there before heading off on safari, and I saw some mousebirds in the the city that evening. OK, they’re a bit drabber than some tropical birds — they don’t have the jaw-dropping impact of toucans or quetzals or bee-eaters — but they are proper African birds, and it was a one of the first of many thrilling sightings on that holiday.

»  Mousebirds on Aloe ferox flowers is © Martin Heigan and used under a CC by-nc-nd licence. 5 in a row…………, was uploaded to Flickr by and is © crazykanga.

2 Comments

  1. 8 December 2009 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    They look exotic enough to me. Not highly colored maybe — how could a bird be called a mousebird if it were gaudy? — but the configuration is wild.

  2. Harry
    9 December 2009 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Particularly when they’re hanging off a wire in that peculiar way.

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