Mousebirds make great pets, as well as aviary birds.
In the June 2009 issue of BIRD TALK magazine, you learned about mousebirds as pets. Now learn about mousebirds in the wild and in the aviary.
In the wild, both parents assist in nest building as well as incubation. They have helpers, — usually last year’s clutch — that share incubation and feeding chores with the parents. Eggs are white in Colius mousebirds, but have reddish brown markings in Urocolius mousebirds. Incubation is a brief 12 days and the chicks’ stay in the nest is quite brief, some leaving the nest as early as 10 days old to scamper around on nearby limbs. They are independent at 5 to 6 weeks of age.
Mousebirds are great in an aviary, sleeping at night in a single clump, usually hanging from the wire top. This trait helps regulate heat and the fact that they can lower their metabolic rate by as much as 90 percent (much like a hummingbird in torpor) further aids in staying warm.
If you attempt tointroduce a flock in a planted aviary, all birds should be introduced at once. Adding just a single bird later on can prove to be difficult do to the aggressiveness of the existing flock. They are not aggressive toward other species. Mousebirds really dislike cold, not that they cannot handle chilly temperatures, they can, but they prefer not to, especially if they are going be wet and cold. Most will bathe in a wet shrub, rolling around to get the feathers soaked, but what they really like is a dust bath in the sun. Provide an area of soft soil in a sunny location for this purpose.
In captivity, they will nest in a wicker basket, or even a plastic canary basket. Two or three eggs are laid, rarely four, though hens have been known to lay a single egg in another’s nest.
Even though mousebirds are primarily vegetarians, they really will not do much damage to plants in the aviary, most prefer fruit to leaves. They will eat some flowers, seeking nectar, but really not cause any harm.