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Food For Mousebirds In The Wild

Mousebirds in the wild enjoy fruit from the salt bush and turkeyberry.

By Dick Schroeder

In the October 2009 issue of BIRD TALK Magazine, you learned different foods that you can feed softbills. Now learn about mousebirds and the foods they enjoy in the wild.

Mousebirds in Africa feed on more than 40 types of fruit that are found in their range, but they rely most heavily on just two species: Salvadora persica, known as salt bush, and Solanum torvum, or Turkeyberry. The salt bush has small (5 to 10 millimeters) fruits that are pink and turn red when ripe. If you keep mousebirds in the United Stares or Europe, you would be hard pressed to find these fruits that they are so fond of at home, but you can find something quite similar, at least in appearance, in the berries from Pyracantha bushes.

Speckled mousebirds in Gabon depend mainly on the fruit of the turkeyberry: these are elongated and flattened in appearance, much like a squashed raisin. It’s not likely that keepers of speckled mousebirds are going to making a trip to Gabon anytime soon, and if they did they would not be allowed to bring back any turkeyberries anyway, as they are classified by USDA as a noxious weed, having been introduced into Florida, Puerto Rico, and Alabama sometime before 1900. They are also found all over the Hawaiian Islands, so there is a real chance that you really could offer real, live turkeyberries to your mousebirds if you live in these areas.
Learn more about mousebirds in the aviary here.

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