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  • Writer's pictureJulien Biget

Mousebirds

Ever wondered why mousebirds sit in the sun so much? Mousebirds are gorgeous little cooperative birds seen in small flocks. They got their name from their colours, which are rather like that of a mouse, and for the way in which they move in a bush, running along the branches and from branch to branch, just like the movement of a mouse. They also have a long tail, increasing their resemblance to a mouse. The reason they can move from branch to branch like this has to do with their foot structure, which is not the same as that of a perching bird. Mousebirds have pamprodactyl feet, meaning all four toes face forward, some species being able to swivel the two outside toes backwards. This means they do not sit or perch on a branch but rather hang there, in that very peculiar mousebird way. In the mornings they can often be found in a fruiting tree, looking for breakfast, hanging from a branch and enjoying the sun. This behaviour serves a few very interesting benefits. They need to get rid of parasites, and parasites don´t like it when it gets too hot. These parasites then fall off when the suns rays get too intense, keeping the lovely little bird free of any inconvenient hangers on. This also helps with feather care, which is essential for flight, warmth and survival. But here´s where things get very interesting. Mousebirds are herbivorous, mainly eating fruits and leaves. This can be a very filling and fibrous meal and be difficult to digest. The mousebirds have thus diploid the help of microbes in their gut. Microbes like it when its hot, so the mousebirds will sit with their bellies facing the morning sun to heat up their little gut microbes to wake them up and give them plenty of energy for the digestion about to take place. Amazingly they have even evolved black skin to maximise the efficiency of their sunbathing skills. They probably also enjoy just hanging in the sun getting warm.

mousebirds
Lerato Adventures – Mousebirds

 

Author


Lerato Adventures Safari Guide Julien Biget
Lerato Adventures – Safari Guide Julien Biget

Julien is French and Scottish, born in 1988 in Nairobi Kenya.


He's a professional Nature Guide and Trails Guide speaking both French and English. He has been lucky enough to have worked in some of the most amazing destinations Africa has to offer, from East Africa to Southern Africa, as well as some time in Central Africa.


From a very young age he knew he needed to work with animals, big or small, and somewhere in nature. He was always picking creatures up and trying to see the world from their perspective, trying to understand them as much as possible, mesmerised by their shapes and colours. He liked to share this passion with everyone around, always trying to get them involved in his discoveries. Nature is all around us, in Europe, Asia or Africa, all we have to do is realise it.



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