Madagasikara | Madagascar

SUB-REGION
Malagasy

SIZE
Madagascar is the largest island in the Indian Ocean and ABC region, and the fourth largest in the world, covering a total area of 587,041 km²

BIRDS AND BIRDING

SPECIES
Diversity

A highly distinctive avifauna, with four surviving endemic families (Mesites, Ground Rollers, Asities and Tetrakas & Allies) and a family with only one species (Cuckoo-roller) shared with the Comoros
Approximately 310 recorded species (including vagrants), about one third of which are endemics

Chabert Vanga (John Caddick)
Madagascar Blue Vanga (Paul van Giersbergen)
Helmet Vanga (Paul van Giersbergen)
Pitta-like Ground Roller (Paul van Giersbergen)
Rufous-headed Ground Roller (Paul van Giersbergen)
Long-tailed Ground Roller (Paul van Giersbergen)

Endemics (E)
Meller’s Duck (EN)
Bernier’s Teal | Madagascar Teal (EN)
Madagascar Pochard (CR)
Madagascar Partridge (LC)
Collared Nightjar (LC)
Crested Coua (LC)
Verreaux’s Coua (LC)
Blue Coua (LC)
Red-capped Coua (LC)
Olive-capped Coua | Green-capped Coua (LC)
Red-fronted Coua (LC)
Coquerel’s Coua (LC)
Running Coua (LC)
Giant Coua (LC)
Red-breasted Coua (LC)
Madagascar Cuckoo (breeding) (LC)
White-breasted Mesite (VU)
Brown Mesite (VU)
Subdesert Mesite (VU)
Madagascar Sandgrouse (LC)
Madagascar Green Pigeon (LC)
Madagascar Blue Pigeon (LC)
Madagascar Forest Rail | Madagascar Wood Rail (LC)
Tsingy Forest Rail | Tsingy Wood Rail (VU)
Madagascar Flufftail (LC)
Slender-billed Flufftail (NT)
Madagascar Rail (VU)
Sakalava Rail (EN)
Madagascar Grebe | Madagascar Little Grebe (EN)
Madagascar Buttonquail (LC)
Madagascar Plover | Black-banded Plover (VU)
Madagascar Jacana (EN)
Madagascar Snipe (VU)
Madagascar Pratincole (breeding) (NT)
Madagascar Ibis | Madagascar Crested Ibis (NT)
Madagascar Harrier-Hawk | Madagascar Gymnogene (LC)
Madagascar Serpent Eagle (EN)
Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk | Madagascar Baza (LC)
Madagascar Sparrowhawk (NT)
Henst’s Goshawk (VU)
Madagascar Fish Eagle (CR)
Madagascar Buzzard (LC)
Red Owl | Madagascar Red Owl (VU)
White-browed Owl (LC)
Torotoroka Scops Owl (NA)
Rainforest Scops Owl (LC)
Madagascar Owl | Madagascar Long-eared Owl (LC)
Madagascar Hoopoe (LC)
Short-legged Ground Roller (VU)
Scaly Ground Roller (VU)
Pitta-like Ground Roller (LC)
Rufous-headed Ground Roller (NT)
Long-tailed Ground Roller (VU)
Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher (LC)
Banded Kestrel (LC)
Lesser Vasa Parrot | Black Parrot (LC)
Grey-headed Lovebird | Madagascar Lovebird (LC)
Schlegel’s Asity (NT)
Velvet Asity (LC)
Common Sunbird-Asity (LC)
Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity (VU)
Red-tailed Vanga (LC)
Red-shouldered Vanga (VU)
Hook-billed Vanga (LC)
Bernier’s Vanga (EN)
Lafresnaye’s Vanga (NT)
Van Dam’s Vanga (EN)
Pollen’s Vanga (NT)
Sickle-billed Vanga (LC)
White-headed Vanga (LC)
Chabert Vanga (LC)
Madagascar Blue Vanga (LC)
Rufous Vanga (LC)
Helmet Vanga (EN)
Tylas Vanga (LC)
Nuthatch Vanga | Coral-billed Nuthatch-Vanga (LC)
Dark Newtonia (LC)
Common Newtonia (LC)
Archbold’s Newtonia (LC)
Red-tailed Newtonia (VU)
Ward’s Flycatcher (LC)
Crossley’s Vanga | Crossley’s Babbler (LC)
Madagascar Cuckooshrike (LC)
Madagascar Lark | Madagascar Bush Lark (LC)
Madagascar Martin | Madagascar Plain Martin (LC)
Subdesert Brush Warbler | Lantz’s Brush Warbler (LC)
Madagascar Swamp Warbler (LC)
Grey Emutail | Madagascar Grassbird (LC)
Brown Emutail (LC)
White-throated Oxylabes (LC)
Long-billed Bernieria | Long-billed Tetraka (LC)
Cryptic Warbler (LC)
Wedge-tailed Jery | Wedge-tailed Tetraka (NT)
Thamnornis | Thamnornis Warbler (LC)
Spectacled Tetraka | Short-billed Tetraka (LC)
Appert’s Tetraka (VU)
Dusky Tetraka (DD)
Grey-crowned Tetraka (NT)
Madagascar Yellowbrow | Yellow-browed Oxylabes (LC)
Rand’s Warbler (LC)
Common Jery (LC)
Green Jery (LC)
Stripe-throated Jery (LC)
Madagascar Starling (LC)
Madagascar Magpie-Robin (LC)
Amber Mountain Rock Thrush (EN)
Forest Rock Thrush (LC)
Littoral Rock Thrush (LC)
Madagascar Stonechat (NA)
Nelicourvi Weaver (LC)
Sakalava Weaver (LC)
Red Fody | Madagascar Fody (LC)
Forest Fody (LC)
Madagascar Mannikin | Madagascar Munia (LC)
Madagascar Wagtail (LC)

Sickle-billed Vanga (Paul van Giersbergen)
White-headed Vanga (John Caddick)
Madagascar Flufftail (Paul van Giersbergen)
Lesser Vasa Parrot (Paul van Giersbergen)
Madagascar Fish Eagle (Paul van Giersbergen)
Blue Coua (Paul van Giersbergen)
Nelicourvi Weaver (Paul van Giersbergen)
Madagascar Buttonquail (Paul van Giersbergen)
Madagascar Magpie-Robin (Paul van Giersbergen)
Schlegel’s Asity (John Caddick)
Thamnornis (John Caddick)
Madagascar Pratincole (John Caddick)

Near-endemics (NE), including endemic subspecies (ESS)
Madagascar Nightjar (ESS madagascariensis)
Madagascar Spinetail (ESS grandidieri)
Malagasy Palm Swift (ESS gracilis)
Malagasy Black Swift | Malagasy Swift (ESS balstoni)
Malagasy Coucal (ESS toulou)
Malagasy Turtle Dove (ESS picturatus)
White-throated Rail (ESS cuvieri)
Malagasy Sacred Ibis (ESS bernieri)
Humblot’s Heron | Madagascar Heron
Frances’s Sparrowhawk (ESS francesiae)
Malagasy Harrier | Madagascar Marsh Harrier
Cuckoo-roller | Courol (discolor)
Malagasy Kingfisher (ESS vintsioides)
Malagasy Kestrel (ESS newtoni)
Greater Vasa Parrot | Vasa Parrot (ESS drouhardi + vasa)
Crested Drongo (ESS forficatus)
Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher (ESS mutata)
Malagasy Bulbul
Malagasy Brush Warbler (ESS obscura + ellisii + typica)
Madagascar Cisticola
Malagasy White-eye
Souimanga Sunbird (ESS apolis)
Malagasy Green Sunbird | Long-billed Green Sunbird (ESS notatus)

Malagasy Bulbul (John Caddick)
Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher (John Caddick)
Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher (John Caddick)
Tylas Vanga (John Caddick)
Madagascar Pochard (Paul van Giersbergen)
Madagascar Grebe (Paul van Giersbergen)
Bernier’s Teal (Paul van Giersbergen)

Birds best found in Madagascar but occurring more widely (BT), including ESS
Malagasy Pond Heron
Dimorphic Egret
Mascarene Martin (ESS madagascariensis)

Proposed new species or splits not yet accepted by IOC
Madagascar Swift (E)
Chestnut-vented Coua (E)
Madagascar Turtle Dove (E)
Madagascar White-throated Rail (E)
Madagascar Three-banded Plover (E)
Madagascar Gull (E)
Madagascar Cuckoo-roller (NE)
Subdesert Jery (E)
Madagascar White-eye (NE)
Benson’s Rock Thrush (E)
Western Magpie-Robin | Pelzeln’s Magpie-Robin (E)
Madagascar Green Sunbird (E)

Other taxa of interest, including more ESS
White-faced Whistling Duck
Fulvous Whistling Duck
White-backed Duck (ESS insularis)
Knob-billed Duck
African Pygmy Goose
Blue-billed Teal
Red-billed Teal
Common Quail (africana)
Harlequin Quail
Alpine Swift (ESS willsi)
Little Swift
Thick-billed Cuckoo (ESS audeberti)
Namaqua Dove (ESS aliena)
Common Moorhen | Eurasian Moorhen (pyrrhorrhoa)
Red-knobbed Coot
Allen’s Gallinule
African Swamphen
Baillon’s Crake (intermedia)
Little Grebe (capensis)
Greater Flamingo
Lesser Flamingo
Black-winged Stilt
Grey Plover | Black-bellied Plover
Common Ringed Plover
Kittlitz’s Plover
Three-banded Plover (ESS bifrontatus)
White-fronted Plover (ESS tenellus)
Greater Sand Plover
Tibetan Sand Plover
Greater Painted-snipe
Eurasian Whimbrel
Eurasian Curlew
Bar-tailed Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Ruff
Curlew Sandpiper
Sanderling
Little Stint
Terek Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Common Greenshank
Crab-plover
Brown Noddy
Lesser Noddy
Grey-headed Gull | Gray-hooded Gull
Kelp Gull (ESS melisandae)
Caspian Tern
Greater Crested Tern (thalassinus)
Lesser Crested Tern (bengalensis)
Saunders’s Tern
Bridled Tern (antarcticus)
Sooty Tern (nubilosus)
Roseate Tern (arideensis)
Common Tern
Whiskered Tern (delalandii)
White-winged Tern
Brown Skua
Red-tailed Tropicbird
White-tailed Tropicbird
Wilson’s Storm Petrel
White-faced Storm Petrel
Black-bellied Storm Petrel
Snowy Albatross | Wandering Albatross
Amsterdam Albatross
Shy Albatross | White-capped Albatross (steadi)
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
Southern Giant Petrel
Cape Petrel | Pintado Petrel
Great-winged Petrel
Soft-plumaged Petrel
Kermadec Petrel
Herald Petrel
Trindade Petrel
Barau’s Petrel
Mascarene Petrel
White-chinned Petrel
Cory’s Shearwater
Wedge-tailed Shearwater
Flesh-footed Shearwater
Tropical Shearwater
Bulwer’s Petrel
Jouanin’s Petrel
Yellow-billed Stork
African Openbill | African Open-billed Stork (ESS madagascariensis)
Great Frigatebird
Lesser Frigatebird
Masked Booby
Red-footed Booby
Brown Booby
African Darter (ESS vulsini)
Reed Cormorant | Long-tailed Cormorant (ESS pictilis)
Glossy Ibis
African Spoonbill
Little Bittern (ESS podiceps)
Black-crowned Night Heron
Striated Heron (rutenbergi)
Squacco Heron
Western Cattle Egret
Grey Heron (firasa)
Purple Heron (ESS madagascariensis)
Great Egret (melanorhynchos)
Black Heron
Hamerkop
Bat Hawk
Yellow-billed Kite (parasitus)
Western Barn Owl (hypermetra)
Marsh Owl (ESS hova)
Broad-billed Roller (ESS glaucurus)
Olive Bee-eater | Madagascar Bee-eater
Eleonora’s Falcon
Sooty Falcon
Peregrine Falcon (radama)
Pied Crow
Common Waxbill

Lafresnaye’s Vanga (Paul van Giersbergen)
Nuthatch Vanga (Paul van Giersbergen)
Hook-billed Vanga (Paul van Giersbergen)

Introduced species
Helmeted Guineafowl
Rock Dove
House Crow
Common Myna
House Sparrow

MAIN HABITATS
Moist eastern rainforest, dry western deciduous forest, arid southern spiny forest, grassland, wetlands, mangroves, islets

BIRD AREAS
East Malagasy wet forests Endemic Bird Area (EBA)
East Malagasy wetlands EBA
South Malagasy spiny forests EBA
West Malagasy dry forests EBA
West Malagasy wetlands EBA
Ile Sainte-Marie/Nosy Boraha Secondary Area (SA) is no longer valid since Snail-eating Coua is extinct
Isalo massif SA is also no longer valid since Benson’s Rock Thrush has been lumped
84 Important Bird Areas

BIRDING SITES
Ankarafantsika National Park (NP) and Kirindy Forest for dry deciduous forest species
Andasibe-Mantadia NP, Ranomafana NP and Masoala NP for moist rainforest species
Zombitse-Vohibatsia NP and Isalo NP for transition forest species
Ifaty and Berenty Reserve for spiny forest and arid scrub birds
Betsiboka Delta for Bernier’s Teal
Bemanevika-Mahimborondro for Madagascar Pochard

TIMING (Sep–Nov)
Best at the start of the rains, when birds breed and it is not too wet
For more remote areas, go before the rains (Aug–Sep)
Avoid cyclone season (Jan–Apr)

RESOURCES
Field guides

Ny Vorontsika eto Madagasikara (Our Birds in Madagascar) by Hajanirina F Rakotomanana & Bruno A Raveloson (2019) is the first field guide to the birds of Madagascar written entirely in Malagasy
Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands by Frank Hawkins, Roger Safford & Adrian Skerrett (2015) is recommended over –
Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Rodrigues, Seychelles, Comoros by Ian Sinclair & Olivier Langrand (2013), which is also available in French as Oiseaux des Îles de l’Océan Indien: Madagascar, Maurice, Réunion, Rodrigues, Seychelles, Comores (2014)
Ny Vorona Malagasy by Satoshi Yamagishi, Tomohisa Masuda & Hajanirina Rakotomanana (1997) is a field guide to the birds of Madagascar in Malagasy and Japanese
Guide des Oiseaux de Madagascar by Olivier Langrand (1995) is also available in English as A Field Guide to the Birds of Madagascar
A Photographic Guide to the Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands/Guide Photographique des Oiseaux des Îles de l’Océan Indien by Ian Sinclair, Olivier Langrand & Fanja Andriamialisoa (2006) is more comprehensive than –
Birds of Madagascar: a Photographic Guide by Pete Morris & Frank Hawkins (2000)
Wildlife of Madagascar by Ken Behrens & Keith Barnes (2016) is a photographic guide covering the birds as well as mammals, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies most likely to be seen on the island

Sounds
Bird Sounds of Madagascar: an Audio Guide to the Island’s Unique Birds by Frank Hawkins & Richard Ranft
Bird Sounds of Madagascar, Mayotte, Comoros, Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritius/Oiseaux de Madagascar, Mayotte, Comores, Seychelles, Reunion, Maurice by Pierre Huget & Claude Chappuis
Madagascar Soundscapes by Victor Randrianary, Sylvie Rifflet & Jean C Roche

DVDs
The Endemic Birds of Madagascar is a 4-DVD set featuring 130 Malagasy endemic species produced and published by Guy Eldridge

Site guides
Southern African Birdfinder: Where to Find 1,400 Bird Species in Southern Africa and Madagascar by Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode & Jonathan Rossouw (2006)
How to See Madagascar Pochard, the World’s Rarest Duck by Michael S L Mills & Michael Rogerson (2013)
Lake Bedo: a Little-Known Wetland Hotspot in Madagascar by H Glyn Young & Felix Razafindrajao (2006)
A Birder’s Guide to Travel in Madagascar by Nick Gardner (1992)

Atlases
Atlas d’une Selection de Vertebres Terrestres de Madagascar/Atlas of Selected Land Vertebrates of Madagascar edited by Steven M Goodman & Marie Jeanne Raherilalao (2014)

Further reading
The State of Madagascar’s Birds: Indicators of Environmental Change compiled and edited by Rado Andriamasimanana, Roger Safford, Lucy Haskell & Tris Allinson for Asity Madagascar and BirdLife International (2021)
The Birds of Africa Volume VIII: the Malagasy Region by Roger Safford & Frank Hawkins (2013)
Histoire Naturelle des Familles et Sous-familles Endémiques d’Oiseaux de Madagascar by Marie Jeanne Raherilalao & Steven M Goodman (2011)
Birds of the Indian Ocean/Les Oiseaux de l’Océan Indien by Narainsamy Ramen (2022)
The New Natural History of Madagascar edited by Steven M Goodman (2022)
Les Aires Protégées Terrestres de Magagascar: Leur Histoire, Description et Biote/The Terrestrial Protected Areas of Madagascar: Their History, Description, and Biota edited by Steven M Goodman, Marie Jeanne Raherilalao & Sébastien Wohlhauser (2019)
Madagascar: un Paradis aux Abois/a Paradise in Distress by Lorraine Bennery & Olivier Hirschy (2019)
Madagascar by Project ZICOMA in Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority Sites for Conservation edited by Lincoln D C Fishpool & Michael I Evans (2001)
Les Zones d’Importance pour la Conservation des Oiseaux à Madagascar by Project ZICOMA (1999)
Social Organisation of the Rufous Vanga edited by Satoshi Yamagishi (2005)
The Birds of Southeastern Madagascar by Steven M Goodman, Mark Pidgeon, A F A Hawkins & Thomas S Schulenberg (1997)
Composition and Characteristics of Bird Communities in Madagascar by Lucienne Wilmé (1996)
The Endemic Birds of Madagascar by T J Dee (1986)
Endemics, Anyone? Madagascar’s Birds by Martin Benadie (2018)
Articles in Scopus, Bull. ABC, Malagasy Nature, Working Group on Birds in the Madagascar Region Newsletter, etc.

Websites
Birds & Birding Madagascar
WildMadagascar.org
UNESCO World Heritage List: Rainforests of the Atsinanana and Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve

Facebook groups
Madagascar Pochard Conservation
Madagascar Birding Tours

ORGANISATIONS

Asity Madagascar is the BirdLife Partner in Madagascar and the Velvet Asity is its flagship species

Other bird or conservation organisations active in Madagascar include –
Madagascar Birding Association
Association Vahatra
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT)
Mikajy Natiora
Madagascar Institut pour la Conservation des Écosystèmes Tropicaux (MICET)
Madagasikara Voakajy
Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar (BCM)
Impact Madagascar
Fanamby
Planet Madagascar
Ny Tanintsika
SEED Madagascar (Sustainable Environment, Education & Development in Madagascar)
Eden Reforestation Projects
Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) Madagascar Research and Conservation Program
Biodiversity Inventory for Conservation (BINCO)
Seacology
Blue Ventures
L’Homme et l’Environnement
NABU
WWF Madagascar
WCS Madagascar
Conservation International Madagascar

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