Madagasikara | Madagascar

SUB-REGION
Western Indian Ocean Islands

SIZE
Madagascar is the largest island in the ABC region, and the fourth largest in the world, covering a total area of 587,295 km²

BIRDS AND BIRDING

SPECIES
Diversity

A highly distinctive avifauna, with four surviving endemic families (mesites, ground rollers, asities and Madagascan warblers or tetrakas), a family with only one species (Cuckoo Roller) shared with the Comoros and another near-endemic group of birds (vangas)
Approximately 310 recorded species

Chabert’s Vanga (John Caddick)
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)
Malagasy Black Swift | Madagascar Swift (LC)
Crested Coua (LC)
Verreaux’s Coua (LC)
Blue Coua (LC)
Red-capped Coua (LC)
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 Wood Rail (LC)
Tsingy Wood Rail (VU)
Madagascar Flufftail (LC)
Slender-billed Flufftail (EN)
Madagascar Rail (VU)
Sakalava Rail (EN)
Madagascar Grebe (EN)
Madagascar Buttonquail (LC)
Madagascar Plover | Black-banded Plover (VU)
Madagascar Jacana (EN)
Madagascar Snipe (VU)
Madagascar Pratincole (breeding) (NT)
Madagascar Ibis (NT)
Humblot’s Heron | Madagascar Heron (EN)
Madagascar Harrier-Hawk (LC)
Madagascar Serpent Eagle (EN)
Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk (LC)
Madagascar Sparrowhawk (NT)
Henst’s Goshawk (VU)
Madagascar Fish Eagle (CR)
Madagascar Buzzard (LC)
Red Owl (VU)
White-browed Owl (LC)
Torotoroka Scops Owl (NA)
Rainforest Scops Owl (LC)
Madagascar 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)
Grey-headed Lovebird (LC)
Lesser Vasa Parrot (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 (LC)
Van Dam’s Vanga (EN)
Pollen’s Vanga (NT)
Sickle-billed Vanga (LC)
White-headed Vanga (LC)
Chabert Vanga (LC)
Rufous Vanga (LC)
Helmet Vanga (EN)
Tylas Vanga (LC)
Nuthatch Vanga (LC)
Dark Newtonia (LC)
Common Newtonia (LC)
Archbold’s Newtonia (LC)
Red-tailed Newtonia (VU)
Ward’s Flycatcher (LC)
Crossley’s Vanga (LC)
Madagascar Cuckooshrike (LC)
Madagascar Lark (LC)
Subdesert Brush Warbler (LC)
Madagascar Swamp Warbler (LC)
Grey Emutail (LC)
Brown Emutail (LC)
White-throated Oxylabes (LC)
Long-billed Tetraka (LC)
Cryptic Warbler (LC)
Wedge-tailed Jery (NT)
Thamnornis (LC)
Spectacled Tetraka (LC)
Appert’s Tetraka (VU)
Dusky Tetraka (DD)
Grey-crowned Tetraka (NT)
Madagascar Yellowbrow (LC)
Rand’s Warbler (LC)
Common Jery (LC)
Green Jery (LC)
Stripe-throated Jery (LC)
Madagascar Starling (LC)
Madagascar Magpie-Robin (LC)
Littoral Rock Thrush (LC)
Forest Rock Thrush (LC)
Amber Mountain Rock Thrush (EN)
Madagascar Stonechat (NA)
Malagasy Green Sunbird | Long-billed Sunbird (LC)
Nelicourvi Weaver (LC)
Sakalava Weaver (LC)
Red Fody (LC)
Forest Fody (LC)
Madagascar Mannikin (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 Coucal (ESS toulou)
Malagasy Turtle Dove (ESS picturatus)
White-throated Rail (ESS cuvieri)
Malagasy Sacred Ibis (ESS bernieri)
Frances’s Sparrowhawk (ESS francesiae)
Madagascar Harrier
Cuckoo Roller
Malagasy Kingfisher (ESS vintsioides)
Madagascar Kestrel (ESS newtoni)
Greater Vasa Parrot (ESS drouhardi + vasa)
Blue Vanga (ESS madagascarinus)
Crested Drongo (ESS forficatus)
Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher (ESS mutata + singetra)
Malagasy Bulbul
Madagascar Brush Warbler (ESS typica + obscura)
Madagascar Cisticola
Malagasy White-eye
Souimanga Sunbird (ESS apolis)

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
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)
Madagascar Blue Vanga (E)
Madagascar Plain Martin (E)
Subdesert Jery (E)
Madagascar White-eye (NE)
Benson’s Rock Thrush (E)
Pelzeln’s Magpie-Robin (E)
Madagascar Green Sunbird (E)

Other taxa of interest, including more ESS
White-backed Duck (ESS insularis)
African Palm Swift (ESS gracilis)
Alpine Swift (ESS willsi)
Thick-billed Cuckoo (ESS audeberti)
Namaqua Dove (ESS aliena)
Allen’s Gallinule
White-fronted Plover (ESS tenellus)
Crab-plover
African Darter (ESS vulsini)
Reed Cormorant | Long-tailed Cormorant (ESS pictilis)
African Openbill | African Open-billed Stork (madagascariensis)
Little Bittern (ESS podiceps)
Purple Heron (ESS madagascariensis)
Black Heron
Marsh Owl (ESS hova)
Broad-billed Roller (ESS glaucurus)
Olive Bee-eater
Eleonora’s Falcon
Sooty Falcon

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

MAIN HABITATS
Moist eastern forest, dry western woodland, arid spiny forest, grassland, wetlands

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 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 (Ampijoroa) and Kirindy Forest for western woodland species
Andasibe-Mantadia, Ranomafana and Masoala for eastern rainforest species
Zombitse for transition forest species
Ifaty and Toliara for spiny forest and arid scrub birds
Betsiboka Delta for Bernier’s Teal
Bemanevika 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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