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Coliformes - Colies, Mousebirds
 
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Coliiformes
Family: Colies, Mousebirds
 
  Order Coliiformes
Wiki     ToL     EoL
 
  Family Coliidae - Colies, Mousebirds
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  6 species, 2 genera (Colius, Urocolius).  Sub-Saharan Africa.
   Named for their facility at climbing through dense scrub and running along branches.
   Colies (mousebirds) are slender, drab, medium-sized arboreal birds with long, stiff tails and marked crests. The tail may be nearly twice the length of the body. Their head is small. Their bill is short and stubby but strong and slightly decurved. Their nares are holorhinal and impervious. The palate is indirectly desmognathus and the vomer is reduced. Their wings are short and rounded and their legs are relatively short. Their toes are mobile with long claws. Their 1st and 4th toes are reversible - the foot is said to be "pamprodactyl." The pygostyle has two pairs of lateral processes (a small anterior pair and a broader enlarged posterior pair). They have 13 cervical vertebrae. They have only the left carotid artery. Their pelvic muscle formula is AXY. The syrinx is tracheo-bronchial and there are no caeca. The skin is thick and they have a large aftershaft but they have no down feathers. Feathers are soft and hair-like and are poorly waterproofed. There are 10 primaries and 10 secondaries. Secondary coverts are eutaxic. Their molt is usually irregular. The 10 rectrices also show an irregular molt. The oil gland is tufted and bilobed,
   Colies are mostly brown. In 3 species, the back or tail and rump are marked (white, reddish, gray). They have a conspicuous crest that is often erected and there are patches of white on the cheeks or crown. Urocolius - 2 species - have bare red facial skin. The legs and feet are deep red. Sexes are alike.
   They are social and often form family groups. They forage together, feeding on leaves, berries, fruit and buds. They are highly arboreal and feed acrobatically, sometimes hanging upside-down. Before flying, they move to the top of a bush, then fly with a whirring flight and a long glide before crash-landing. They roost and sunbathe facing each other, hanging down with their feet and head level. They live in open thornbush, woodland with sparse vegetation, and Acacia-covered savanna, ranging to higher elevations.
   When food is in short supply, they may undergo periods of torpor.
   They are vocal maintaining contact with other members in their group.
   Mousebirds are monogamous and communal. They use twigs to build loose, bulky nests in trees to shallow cups or platforms, usually hidden in thornbushes. They lay 2-4 eggs (1-8) - sometimes more than one female contributes. Incubation (both parents) takes 11-12 days. Male helpers may also feed the young. Chicks leave the nest in about 10-13 days.
   Sibley and Monroe (1990) place this order after the Coraciae (Kingfishers and their allies) and before the Cuculiformes (cuckoos). Clements (2007) place them after the Hummingbirds and ahead of the Trogons and Quetzals (Coraciae). They may be closer to parrots and cockatoos (Psittaciformes) than other orders but this is not clear. Colies have a unique combination of characters and their relationships are really uncertain...