(Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1838)
The white-breasted mesite (Mesitornis variegatus) is a ground-dwelling bird endemic to Madagascar. One of three species in the mesite family Mesitornithidae, it has a small population and is restricted to five sites in the north and west of the island.
The white-breasted mesite is a medium-sized terrestrial bird which is often described as rail-like (a family with which the mesites are sometimes placed). The species has a white face with distinctive facial markings (a white supercilium and dark malar stripes) and a short dark straight bill. The upperparts of the bird are rufous brown, the underside white with a tawny chest band and a barred belly.
The white-breasted mesite is a forest species; it forages slowly through the forest floor flicking over leaf-litter in order to find invertebrates. It travels in small family groups of 2-4 individuals. The preferred habitat is undisturbed deciduous forest. The population of this species is declining and is projected to continue doing so. It is sensitive to disturbance, and its forest home is threatened by logging and forest fires. It is also subject to hunting pressure.
- BirdLife International (2006) Species factsheet: Mesitornis variegatus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/9/2006