This bird is about 35 cm (14 inches) long, with the tail comprising approximately half the length, and weighs about 57 grams (2 oz). It is well-named, because it is dull-mousy brown in overall color on the back and on the head (including a prominent crest). The bill is black on the upper part and is a pinkish color on the lower part. The rare white-headed mousebird can be confused with this species, but the differently colored mandibles and the lack of a bare grey orbital patch render the Speckled species distinctive.
The speckled mousebird is not known for its voice, as songbirds are, although it is a noisy creature. They make a warbling tsu-tsu call while in flight, and are known for their tisk-tisk alarm call while in flight.
It is distributed from Cameroon east to Eritrea and Ethiopia, south through eastern Africa to southern South Africa. Most habitats are suitable for this species, except the rainforests and more arid areas. This mousebird prefers open bushveld habitats. It is widespread in savanna and open woodlands, as well as areas with tangled thickets. It is a common "backyard bird," often seen in urban areas that contain gardens and orchards.[