Two more residents of Nairobi

Nursing a morning cuppa in MONT’s kitchen I heard much chattering outside the window. I would be a very bad naturalist, because I paid no attention to it. The Family looked out and was instantly excited. I ran for my camera and caught the featured photo. Finally with a field guide at hand I sat down to identify it. Perhaps an oriole? No, it didn’t fit. A field guide with almost 1400 entries is no good unless you have some idea of what you are looking at. I flipped through it looking for all black and yellow birds and finally landed up with the weavers. Could it be one of the five different subspecies of Baglafecht weaver? The males and females have different but equally bright colours, so I had to be careful. It was; a male Ploceus baglafecht reichenowi. That was my first successful field identification in Kenya.

In the meanwhile, another bird had arrived in the same palm tree outside MONT’s kitchen. I snapped off a couple of photos thinking it was a speckled mouse bird. But it wasn’t. The crest was much paler. I jumped to the conclusion that it was the rarer white headed mousebird. The Family was not slow to point out that this must be wrong, because it doesn’t have the long tail that mousebirds always do. Now it required a careful page by page look through the book. I couldn’t identify it. The Family tried a second trawl, and came up empty too. Now we are waiting for a kind reader to help us with an id.

[One possibility that more than one birder suggested is that this is a mousebird which lost its tail to a predator.]

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. Have you tried There are sightings from all over the world (including Africa) 🙂 Not sure what your internet connection is like.


      1. You can drill down to the area. Once I went to Kenya, I found Ambersoli, or whatever the spelling was. Somehow missed these were in Nairobi. There are also 2 apps now available one is eBird, the other is Merlin. I have eBird on my phone, but haven’t checked out Merlin app yet.


      2. I took a screenshot of the bird in question and ran it through the Merlin app… it said it was a bronze mannikin.


      3. Thanks very much. I should try out the app.

        But this is one of the cases where the AI engine behind the app is fooled. It has been led astray by the shape of the beak, and the body-to-taill size ratio. It hasn’t paid attention to the crest and the colour (especially of the legs). But the misidentification is very helpful, since it means that for some reason the bird was not in the training set of the AI. I’m more inclined now to believe now what the human experts suggested, that this bird has probably lost its tail to a predator.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It does look more prehistoric than the mannikin, but then I think it was in a fight as there aren’t any feathers around its eye. As for the crest, I was wondering if it’s like a snowy egret where it’s not always “up and out”.


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