List of birds of Madagascar

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The sickle-billed vanga belongs to the family Vangidae, one of Madagascar's families.

Madagascar is an island nation located off the southeastern coast of Africa. Because of its long separation from neighboring continents—through tectonic movement, it split from Africa about 160 million years ago, and from India around 90 million years ago—it contains many species endemic to the island.[1] Of the 310 bird species recorded on Madagascar, 109 are found nowhere else on earth, and a handful of others are shared only with the neighbouring Comoro Islands,[2] 2 have been declared extinct, 36 are globally threatened, 7 species are introduced by humans.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 2021 edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for Madagascar.

Species status comments are taken from Morris and Hawkins's Birds of Madagascar: A Photographic Guide unless otherwise noted. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts. The IUCN Red List codes are those given by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources; they come from the IUCN's Red List website.[3]

Table legend[edit]

  (*) Species endemic to Madagascar
  (%) Species introduced to Madagascar
IUCN Red List Codes
Code Description
CR Critically endangered
EN Endangered
EX Extinct
LC Least concern
NR Not recognised as a species by IUCN
NT Near threatened
VU Vulnerable

The harlequin quail breeds occasionally in Madagascar.[4]
The little grebe is common on fresh and brackish waters, particularly in western wetlands and the northern highlands.[5]
There are few recent records of black-browed albatross, which was formerly frequent in Madagascar waters.[6]
Though not often seen from land, the Wilson's storm petrel is regularly recorded on migration through Malagasy waters, sometimes in large numbers.[7]
Pink-backed pelicans bred in Madagascar in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but have only been recorded a few times since.[8]
The greater frigatebird is typically found soaring in groups high above the ocean, often in thermals.[9]
The globally threatened Humblot's heron is endemic to Madagascar, though it may also breed on the Comoros.[10]
The endemic, forest-dwelling Madagascar ibis is heavily hunted, despite being legally protected.[11]
The Madagascar fish eagle is critically endangered, with a breeding population of fewer than 100 pairs.[12]
The subdesert mesite is restricted to a coastal strip of dry, spiny forest in southwestern Madagascar.[13]
The crab-plover is a common visitor to the island's west coast.[14]
The giant coua feeds on the ground, primarily on insects.[15]
The tiny Madagascar pygmy-kingfisher is found in forests with dense understory.
The scarce and secretive short-legged ground roller is threatened by habitat destruction and degradation.[16]
The cuckoo-roller is found in forests and woodlands throughout the island.
The white-headed vanga is widespread and found in all types of forest.
The Malagasy paradise-flycatcher is a regional endemic, found in both Madagascar and the Comoros.[17]
The long-billed bernieria, formerly thought to be a greenbul, is now considered a Malagasy warbler.
There are multiple subspecies of the endemic Madagascar magpie robin found across the island, differing in the amount of black in the adult male's plumage.[18]
The male souimanga sunbird has iridescent plumage in the breeding season—which is generally from August to January.[17]
The endemic Madagascar red fody is common and widespread, even in the country's capital, Antananarivo.[19]

Ducks, geese, and waterfowl[edit]

Order: Anseriformes   Family: Anatidae

Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These birds are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
White-faced whistling-duck Dendrocygna viduata Common resident LC
Fulvous whistling-duck Dendrocygna bicolor Uncommon resident LC
White-backed duck Thalassornis leuconotus Rare resident LC
Knob-billed duck Sarkidiornis melanotos Locally common resident LC
African pygmy-goose Nettapus auritus Common resident LC
Blue-billed teal Spatula hottentota Locally common resident LC
Meller's duck* Anas melleri Uncommon resident EN
Mallard% Anas platyrhynchos Introduced species LC
Red-billed duck Anas erythrorhyncha Common resident LC
Bernier's teal* Anas bernieri Rare resident EN
Madagascar pochard* Aythya innotata Recently rediscovered CR


Order: Galliformes Family: Numididae

The guineafowl are a family of birds native to Africa. They typically eat insects and seeds, are ground-nesting, and resemble partridges, except with featherless heads.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Helmeted guineafowl% Numida meleagris Common resident LC

Pheasants, grouse, and allies[edit]

Order: Galliformes   Family: Phasianidae

Phasianidae consists of the pheasants and their allies. These are terrestrial species, variable in size but generally plump, with broad, relatively short wings. Many species are gamebirds or have been domesticated as a food source for humans.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Madagascar partridge* Margaroperdix madagarensis Uncommon resident LC
Common quail Coturnix coturnix Uncommon resident LC
Harlequin quail Coturnix delegorguei Uncommon visitor LC


Order: Phoenicopteriformes   Family: Phoenicopteridae

Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m) tall, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume and, uniquely, are used upside-down.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Greater flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus Regular, rare breeder LC
Lesser flamingo Phoenicopterus minor Erratic migrant NT


Order: Podicipediformes   Family: Podicipedidae

Grebes are small to medium-large freshwater diving birds. They have lobed toes and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, they have their feet placed far back on the body, making them quite ungainly on land.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Alaotra grebe* Tachybaptus rufolavatus Extinct[20] EX
Little grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Locally common resident LC
Madagascar grebe* Tachybaptus pelzelnii Uncommon resident EN

Pigeons and doves[edit]

Order: Columbiformes   Family: Columbidae

Pigeons and doves are stout-bodied birds with short necks and short slender bills with a fleshy cere.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Rock pigeon% Columba livia LC
Malagasy turtle-dove Nesoenas picturatus LC
Namaqua dove Oena capensis LC
Zebra dove% Geopelia striata LC
Madagascar green-pigeon Treron australis LC
Madagascar blue-pigeon* Alectroenas madagascariensis LC


Order: Mesitornithiformes   Family: Mesitornithidae

The mesites (Mesitornithidae) are a family of birds that are part of a clade (Columbimorphae) that include Columbiformes and Pterocliformes.[21] They are smallish flightless or near flightless birds endemic to Madagascar. They are the only family with more than two species in which every species is threatened (all three are listed as vulnerable).

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
White-breasted mesite* Mesitornis variegata Locally common resident VU
Brown mesite* Mesitornis unicolor Uncommon resident VU
Subdesert mesite* Monias benschi Uncommon resident VU


Order: Pterocliformes   Family: Pteroclidae

Sandgrouse have small, pigeon like heads and necks, but sturdy compact bodies. They have long pointed wings and sometimes tails and a fast direct flight. Flocks fly to watering holes at dawn and dusk. Their legs are feathered down to the toes.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Madagascar sandgrouse* Pterocles personatus LC


Order: Cuculiformes   Family: Cuculidae

The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Crested coua* Coua cristata LC
Verreaux's coua* Coua verreauxi LC
Blue coua* Coua caerulea LC
Red-capped coua* Coua ruficeps LC
Red-fronted coua* Coua reynaudii LC
Coquerel's coua* Coua coquereli LC
Running coua* Coua cursor LC
Giant coua* Coua gigas LC
Snail-eating coua* Coua delalandei Extinct EX
Red-breasted coua* Coua serriana LC
Malagasy coucal Centropus toulou LC
Thick-billed cuckoo Pachycoccyx audeberti LC
Madagascar cuckoo Cuculus rochii LC

Nightjars and allies[edit]

Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Caprimulgidae

Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal birds that usually nest on the ground. They have long wings, short legs and very short bills. Most have small feet, of little use for walking, and long pointed wings. Their soft plumage is camouflaged to resemble bark or leaves.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Collared nightjar* Gactornis enarratus LC
Madagascar nightjar Caprimulgus madagascariensis LC


Order: Caprimulgiformes   Family: Apodidae

Swifts are small birds which spend the majority of their lives flying. These birds have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, perching instead only on vertical surfaces. Many swifts have long swept-back wings which resemble a crescent or boomerang.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Madagascar spinetail Zoonavena grandidieri Widespread resident LC
Alpine swift Apus melba Widespread resident LC
African swift Apus barbatus LC
Malagasy swift Apus balstoni Widespread resident LC
Little swift Apus affinis Recent colonist LC
Malagasy palm-swift Cypsiurus gracilis Widespread resident LC


Order: Gruiformes   Family: Sarothruridae

The flufftails are a small family of ground-dwelling birds found only in Madagascar and sub-Saharan Africa.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Madagascar wood-rail* Mentocrex kioloides LC
Tsingy wood-rail* Mentocrex beankaensis Range-restricted resident[22] NT
Madagascar flufftail* Sarothrura insularis LC
Slender-billed flufftail* Sarothrura watersi EN

Rails, gallinules, and coots[edit]

Order: Gruiformes   Family: Rallidae

Rallidae is a large family of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots and gallinules. Typically they inhabit dense vegetation in damp environments near lakes, swamps or rivers. In general they are shy and secretive birds, making them difficult to observe. Most species have strong legs and long toes which are well adapted to soft uneven surfaces. They tend to have short, rounded wings and to be weak fliers.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Madagascar rail* Rallus madagascariensis VU
White-throated rail Dryolimnas cuvieri LC
Corn crake Crex crex Rare/Accidental LC
Spotted crake Porzana porzana Rare/Accidental LC
Eurasian moorhen Gallinula chloropus LC
Red-knobbed coot Fulica cristata LC
Allen's gallinule Porphyrio alleni LC
African swamphen Porphyrio madagascariensis NR
Little crake Zapornia parva Rare/Accidental LC
Baillon's crake Zapornia pusilla LC
Sakalava rail* Zapornia olivieri EN

Stilts and avocets[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Recurvirostridae

Recurvirostridae is a family of large wading birds, which includes the avocets and stilts. The avocets have long legs and long up-curved bills. The stilts have extremely long legs and long, thin, straight bills.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus Fairly common resident LC
Pied avocet Recurvirostra avosetta Very rare vagrant LC

Plovers and lapwings[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Charadriidae

The family Charadriidae includes the plovers, dotterels and lapwings. They are small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings. They are found in open country worldwide, mostly in habitats near water.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Black-bellied plover Pluvialis squatarola LC
Pacific golden-plover Pluvialis fulva Rare/Accidental LC
Lesser sand-plover Charadrius mongolus Rare/Accidental LC
Greater sand-plover Charadrius leschenaultii LC
Kittlitz's plover Charadrius pecuarius LC
Common ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula LC
Madagascar plover* Charadrius thoracicus VU
Little ringed plover Charadrius dubius Rare/Accidental LC
Three-banded plover Charadrius tricollaris LC
White-fronted plover Charadrius marginatus LC
Oriental plover Charadrius veredus LC


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Rostratulidae

Painted-snipes are short-legged, long-billed birds similar in shape to the true snipes, but more brightly coloured.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Greater painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis LC


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Jacanidae

The jacanas are a family of waders found worldwide within the tropical zone. They are identifiable by their huge feet and claws which enable them to walk on floating vegetation in the shallow lakes that are their preferred habitat.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Madagascar jacana* Actophilornis albinucha NT

Sandpipers and allies[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Scolopacidae

Scolopacidae is a large diverse family of small to medium-sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers, and phalaropes. The majority of these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different lengths of legs and bills enable multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus LC
Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata NT
Bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica NT
Black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa NT
Ruddy turnstone Arenaria interpres LC
Ruff Calidris pugnax LC
Sharp-tailed sandpiper Calidris acuminata Very rare vagrant[23] LC
Curlew sandpiper Calidris ferruginea NT
Sanderling Calidris alba LC
Little stint Calidris minuta LC
Buff-breasted sandpiper Calidris subruficollis Very rare vagrant[24] NT
Pectoral sandpiper Calidris melanotos LC
Madagascar snipe* Gallinago macrodactyla VU
Terek sandpiper Xenus cinereus LC
Red-necked phalarope Phalaropus lobatus Very rare vagrant[24] LC
Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos LC
Green sandpiper Tringa ochropus LC
Common greenshank Tringa nebularia LC
Marsh sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis LC
Wood sandpiper Tringa glareola LC


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Turnicidae

The buttonquails are small, drab, running birds which resemble the true quails. The female is the brighter of the sexes and initiates courtship. The male incubates the eggs and tends the young.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Madagascar buttonquail* Turnix nigricollis Common resident LC


Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Dromadidae

The crab-plover is related to the waders. It resembles a plover but with very long grey legs and a strong heavy black bill similar to a tern. It has black-and-white plumage, a long neck, partially webbed feet and a bill designed for eating crabs.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Crab-plover Dromas ardeola Common visitor LC

Pratincoles and coursers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Glareolidae

Glareolidae is a family of wading birds comprising the pratincoles, which have short legs, long pointed wings and long forked tails, and the coursers, which have long legs, short wings and long, pointed bills which curve downwards.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Oriental pratincole Glareola maldivarum Rare/Accidental LC
Madagascar pratincole Glareola ocularis VU

Skuas and jaegers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Stercorariidae

The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
South Polar skua Stercorarius maccormicki Rare/Accidental LC
Brown skua Stercorarius antarcticus LC
Pomarine jaeger Sterocorarius pomarinus Rare/Accidental LC
Long-tailed jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus Rare/Accidental LC

Gulls, terns, and skimmers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes   Family: Laridae

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds, the gulls and terns. Gulls are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. Terns are a group of generally medium to large seabirds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species known to live in excess of 30 years.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Gray-hooded gull Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus LC
Sooty gull Ichthyaetus hemprichii Rare/Accidental LC
Kelp gull Larus dominicanus LC
Brown noddy Anous stolidus LC
Lesser noddy Anous tenuirostris LC
Sooty tern Onychoprion fuscatus LC
Bridled tern Onychoprion anaethetus LC
Little tern Sternula albifrons Rare/Accidental LC
Saunders's tern Sternula saundersi LC
Gull-billed tern Gelochelidon nilotica Rare/Accidental LC
Caspian tern Hydroprogne caspia LC
Black tern Chlidonias niger Rare/Accidental LC
White-winged tern Chlidonias leucopterus LC
Whiskered tern Chlidonias hybrida LC
Roseate tern Sterna dougallii LC
Black-naped tern Sterna sumatrana LC
Common tern Sterna hirundo LC
Greater crested tern Thalasseus bergii LC
Sandwich tern Thalasseus sandvicensis LC
Lesser crested tern Thalasseus bengalensis LC


Order: Phaethontiformes   Family: Phaethontidae

Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings.[25]

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
White-tailed tropicbird Phaethon lepturus Visiting breeder LC
Red-billed tropicbird Phaethon aethereus Very rare vagrant LC
Red-tailed tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda Visiting breeder LC


Order: Sphenisciformes   Family: Spheniscidae

The penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid and other forms of sealife caught while swimming underwater.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Southern rockhopper penguin Eudyptes chrysocome Very rare vagrant VU
Moseley's rockhopper penguin Eudyptes moseleyi Very rare vagrant EN


Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Diomedeidae

The albatrosses are among the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses from the genus Diomedea have the largest wingspans of any extant birds.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Yellow-nosed albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos EN
Salvin's albatross Thalassarche salvini Rare vagrant VU
Black-browed albatross Thalassarche melanophrys Rare vagrant EN
Wandering albatross Diomedea exulans VU

Southern storm-petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Oceanitidae

The southern storm-petrels are relatives of the petrels and are the smallest seabirds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Wilson's storm-petrel Oceanites oceanicus Regular migrant LC
White-faced storm-petrel Pelagodroma marina Very rare vagrant LC
White-bellied storm-petrel Fregetta grallaria Very rare vagrant LC
Black-bellied storm-petrel Fregetta tropica Regular LC

Shearwaters and petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes   Family: Procellariidae

The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Southern giant-petrel Macronectes giganteus Regular offshore LC
Cape petrel Daption capense Offshore migrant, Rare/Accidental LC
Great-winged petrel Pterodroma macroptera Uncommon LC
Soft-plumaged petrel Pterodroma mollis LC
Barau's petrel Pterodroma baraui EN
Broad-billed prion Pachyptila vittata Rare vagrant LC
Salvin's prion Pachyptila salvini Rare vagrant LC
Bulwer's petrel Bulweria bulwerii Very rare vagrant[26] LC
Jouanin's petrel Bulweria fallax Very rare vagrant NT
Cory's shearwater Calonectris diomedea LC
Flesh-footed shearwater Ardenna carneipes NT
Wedge-tailed shearwater Ardenna pacifica Uncommon offshore LC
Tropical shearwater Puffinus bailloni Uncommon offshore LC


Order: Ciconiiformes   Family: Ciconiidae

Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked, wading birds with long, stout bills. Storks are virtually mute, but bill-clattering is an important mode of communication at the nest. Their nests can be large and may be reused for many years. Many species are migratory.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
African openbill Anastomus lamelligerus Resident LC
Yellow-billed stork Mycteria ibis Locally common LC


Order: Suliformes   Family: Fregatidae

Frigatebirds are large seabirds usually found over tropical oceans. They are large, black and white or completely black, with long wings and deeply forked tails. The males have coloured inflatable throat pouches. They do not swim or walk and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan-to-body-weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Lesser frigatebird Fregata ariel Casual visitor LC
Great frigatebird Fregata minor Casual visitor LC

Boobies and gannets[edit]

Order: Suliformes   Family: Sulidae

The gannets and boobies in the family Sulidae are medium to large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
Masked booby Sula dactylatra Very rare vagrant LC
Brown booby Sula leucogaster Visiting breeder LC
Red-footed booby Sula sula Uncommon visitor LC


Order: Suliformes   Family: Anhingidae

Anhingas or darters are often called "snake-birds" because they have long thin necks, which gives a snake-like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged. The males have black and dark-brown plumage, an erectile crest on the nape, and a larger bill than the female. The females have much paler plumage, especially on the neck and underparts. The darters have completely webbed feet and their legs are short and set far back on the body. Their plumage is somewhat permeable, like that of cormorants, and they spread their wings to dry after diving.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN cod
African darter Anhinga rufa Resident LC

Cormorants and shags[edit]

Order: Suliformes   Family: Phalacrocoracidae

Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies; the majority of species have mainly dark plumage, but some are pied black and white, and a few are more colourful.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Long-tailed cormorant Microcarbo africanus Resident LC


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Pelecanidae

Pelicans are large water birds with a distinctive pouch under their beak. As with other members of the order Pelecaniformes, they have webbed feet with four toes.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Pink-backed pelican Pelecanus rufescens Rare vagrant LC


Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Scopidae

The hamerkop is a medium-sized bird with a long shaggy crest. The shape of its head with a curved bill and crest at the back is reminiscent of a hammer, hence its name. Its plumage is drab-brown all over.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Hamerkop Scopus umbretta Resident LC

Herons, egrets, and bitterns[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Ardeidae

The family Ardeidae contains the bitterns, herons, and egrets. Herons and egrets are medium to large wading birds with long necks and legs. Bitterns tend to be shorter necked and more wary. Members of Ardeidae fly with their necks retracted, unlike other long-necked birds such as storks, ibises, and spoonbills.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Little bittern Ixobrychus minutus Scarce breeder LC
Gray heron Ardea cinerea Fairly common resident LC
Black-headed heron Ardea melanocephala Very rare vagrant LC
Humblot's heron Ardea humbloti Uncommon resident EN
Purple heron Ardea purpurea Fairly common resident LC
Great egret Ardea alba Common resident LC
Little egret Egretta garzetta LC
Western reef-heron Egretta gularis Rare/Accidental LC
Black heron Egretta ardesiaca Fairly common resident LC
Cattle egret Bubulcus ibis Common resident LC
Squacco heron Ardeola ralloides Common resident LC
Malagasy pond-heron Ardeola idae Visiting breeder EN
Striated heron Butorides striata Fairly common resident LC
Black-crowned night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax Uncommon resident LC

Ibises and spoonbills[edit]

Order: Pelecaniformes   Family: Threskiornithidae

Threskiornithidae is a family of large terrestrial and wading birds which includes the ibises and spoonbills. They have long, broad wings with 11 primary and about 20 secondary feathers. They are strong fliers and despite their size and weight, very capable soarers.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Glossy ibis Plegadis falcinellus Common resident LC
Madagascar ibis* Lophotibis cristata Rare resident NT
African sacred ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus Rare/Accidental LC
Malagasy sacred ibis Threskiornis bernieri Rare resident EN
African spoonbill Platalea alba Uncommon resident LC


Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Pandionidae

The family Pandionidae contains only one species, the osprey. The osprey is a medium-large raptor which is a specialist fish-eater with a worldwide distribution.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Osprey Pandion haliaetus Rare vagrant LC

Hawks, eagles, and kites[edit]

Order: Accipitriformes   Family: Accipitridae

Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons and keen eyesight.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Black-winged kite Elanus caeruleus Rare/Accidental LC
African harrier-hawk Polyboroides typus LC
Madagascar harrier-hawk* Polyboroides radiatus LC
Madagascar serpent-eagle* Eutriorchis astur EN
Madagascar cuckoo-hawk* Aviceda madagascariensis LC
Bat hawk Macheiramphus alcinus LC
Long-crested eagle 'Lophaetus occipitalis Rare/Accidental LC
Eurasian marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus Rare/Accidental LC
Malagasy harrier Circus macrosceles EN
Pallid harrier Circus macrourus Rare/Accidental NT
Frances's sparrowhawk* Accipiter francesii LC
Madagascar sparrowhawk* Accipiter madagascariensis NT
Henst's goshawk* Accipiter henstii NT
Black kite Milvus migrans LC
Madagascar fish-eagle* Haliaeetus vociferoides CR
Madagascar buzzard* Buteo brachypterus LC

Barn owls[edit]

Order: Strigiformes   Family: Tytonidae

Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Barn owl Tyto alba LC
Red owl* Tyto soumagnei VU


Order: Strigiformes   Family: Strigidae

The typical owls are small to large solitary nocturnal birds of prey. They have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak and a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disk.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
African scops-owl* Otus senegalensis Rare/Accidental LC
Madagascar scops-owl* Otus rutilus LC
Torotoroka scops-owl* Otus madagascariensis NR
White-browed owl Athene superciliaris LC
Madagascar owl* Asio madagascariensis LC
Marsh owl Asio capensis LC


Order: Leptosomiformes   Family: Leptosomidae

The cuckoo roller or courol (Leptosomus discolor)[27] is the only bird in the family Leptosomidae, which was previously often placed in the order Coraciiformes but is now placed in its own order Leptosomiformes. Its nearest relative is not clear.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Cuckoo-roller Leptosomus discolor LC


Order: Bucerotiformes   Family: Upupidae

Hoopoes have black, white and orangey-pink colouring with a large erectile crest on their head.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Eurasian hoopoe Upupa epops LC
Madagascar hoopoe* Upupa marginata LC


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Alcedinidae

Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Malachite kingfisher Corythornis cristatus LC
Malagasy kingfisher Corythornis vintsioides Common resident LC
Madagascar pygmy kingfisher* Corythornis madagascariensis Common resident LC


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Meropidae

The bee-eaters are a group of near passerine birds in the family Meropidae. Most species are found in Africa but others occur in southern Europe, Madagascar, Australia and New Guinea. They are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. All are colourful and have long downturned bills and pointed wings, which give them a swallow-like appearance when seen from afar.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Madagascar bee-eater Merops superciliosus LC
European bee-eater Merops apiaster Very rare vagrant LC


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Coraciidae

Rollers resemble crows in size and build, but are more closely related to the kingfishers and bee-eaters. They share the colourful appearance of those groups with blues and browns predominating. The two inner front toes are connected, but the outer toe is not.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Broad-billed roller Eurystomus glaucurus LC


Order: Coraciiformes   Family: Brachypteraciidae

The ground-rollers are a small family of non-migratory near-passerine birds restricted to Madagascar. They are related to the kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers. They most resemble the latter group, and are sometimes considered a sub-family of the true rollers.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Short-legged ground-roller* Brachypteracias leptosomus Resident VU
Scaly ground-roller* Brachypteracias squamigera Resident VU
Pitta-like ground-roller* Atelornis pittoides Resident LC
Rufous-headed ground-roller* Atelornis crossleyi Resident NT
Long-tailed ground-roller* Uratelornis chimaera Resident VU

Falcons and caracaras[edit]

Order: Falconiformes   Family: Falconidae

Falconidae is a family of diurnal birds of prey. They differ from hawks, eagles and kites in that they kill with their beaks instead of their talons.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Malagasy kestrel Falco newtoni Resident LC
Banded kestrel* Falco zoniventris Uncommon resident LC
Eleonora's falcon Falco eleonorae Winter visitor LC
Sooty falcon Falco concolor Winter visitor VU
Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus Scarce resident LC

Old World parrots[edit]

Order: Psittaciformes   Family: Psittaculidae

Characteristic features of parrots include a strong curved bill, an upright stance, strong legs, and clawed zygodactyl feet. Many parrots are vividly colored, and some are multi-colored. In size they range from 8 cm (3.1 in) to 1 m (3.3 ft) in length. Old World parrots are found from Africa east across south and southeast Asia and Oceania to Australia and New Zealand.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Greater vasa parrot* Coracopsis vasa LC
Lesser vasa parrot* Coracopsis nigra LC
Gray-headed lovebird* Agapornis canus LC


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Philepittidae

The asities are a family of birds, Philepittidae, that are endemic to Madagascar. The asities consist of four species in two genera. The Neodrepanis species are known as sunbird-asities and were formerly known as false sunbirds.[28]

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Velvet asity* Philepitta castanea LC
Schlegel's asity* Philepitta schlegeli NT
Common sunbird-asity* Neodrepanis coruscans LC
Yellow-bellied sunbird-asity* Neodrepanis hypoxanthus VU


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Campephagidae

The cuckooshrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some minivet species are brightly coloured.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Madagascar cuckooshrike Coracina cinerea LC

Old World orioles[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Oriolidae

The Old World orioles are colourful passerine birds which are not closely related to the New World orioles.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Eurasian golden oriole Oriolus oriolus Rare/Accidental LC

Vangas, helmetshrikes, and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Vangidae

The family Vangidae is highly variable, though most members of it resemble true shrikes to some degre

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Archbold's newtonia* Newtonia archboldi LC
Common newtonia* Newtonia brunneicauda LC
Dark newtonia* Newtonia amphichroa LC
Red-tailed newtonia* Newtonia fanovanae VU
Tylas vanga* Tylas eduardi LC
Red-tailed vanga* Calicalicus madagascariensis Fairly common resident LC
Red-shouldered vanga* Calicalicus rufocarpalis Uncommon resident VU
Nuthatch vanga* Hypositta corallirostris LC
Chabert vanga* Leptopterus chabert LC
Crossley's vanga* Mystacornis crossleyi LC
Blue vanga* Cyanolanius madagascarinus LC
Hook-billed vanga* Vanga curvirostris LC
Ward's flycatcher* Pseudobias wardi Range-restricted resident LC
Rufous vanga* Schetba rufa LC
Helmet vanga* Euryceros prevostii VU
Bernier's vanga* Oriolia bernieri EN
Sickle-billed vanga* Falculea palliata LC
White-headed vanga* Artamella viridis LC
Pollen's vanga* Xenopirostris polleni NT
Lafresnaye's vanga* Xenopirostris xenopirostris LC
Van Dam's vanga* Xenopirostris damii EN


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Dicruridae

The drongos are mostly black or dark grey in colour, sometimes with metallic tints. They have long forked tails, and some Asian species have elaborate tail decorations. They have short legs and sit very upright when perched, like a shrike. They flycatch or take prey from the ground. All are notorious for mobbing predators.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Crested drongo Dicrurus forficatus Common resident LC

Monarch flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Monarchidae

The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines which hunt by gleaning, hovering or flycatching.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Malagasy paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone mutata Common resident LC

Crows, jays, and magpies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Corvidae

The family Corvidae includes crows, ravens, jays, choughs, magpies, treepies, nutcrackers, and ground jays. Corvids are above average in size among the Passeriformes, and some of the larger species show high levels of intelligence.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
House crow Corvus splendens Very rare vagrant[29] LC
Pied crow Corvus albus Common resident LC


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Alaudidae

Larks are small terrestrial birds with often extravagant songs and display flights. Most larks are fairly dull in appearance. Their food is insects and seeds.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Madagascar lark* Eremopterix hova LC

Cisticolas and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Cisticolidae

The Cisticolidae are warblers found mainly in warmer southern regions of the Old World. They are generally very small birds of drab brown or grey appearance found in open country such as grassland or scrub.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Common jery* Neomixis tenella LC
Green jery* Neomixis viridis LC
Stripe-throated jery* Neomixis striatigula LC
Madagascar cisticola Cisticola cherinus LC

Reed warblers and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Acrocephalidae

The members of this family are usually rather large for "warblers". Most are rather plain olivaceous brown above with much yellow to beige below. They are usually found in open woodland, reedbeds, or tall grass. The family occurs mostly in southern to western Eurasia and surroundings, but it also ranges far into the Pacific, with some species in Africa.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Malagasy brush-warbler* Nesillas typica (E) LC
Subdesert brush-warbler* Nesillas lantzii (E) LC
Madagascar swamp warbler* Acrocephalus newtoni LC

Grassbirds and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Locustellidae

Locustellidae are a family of small insectivorous songbirds found mainly in Eurasia, Africa, and the Australian region. They are smallish birds with tails that are usually long and pointed, and tend to be drab brownish or buffy all over.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Brown emutail* Bradypterus brunneus LC
Gray emutail* Bradypterus seebohmi LC

Malagasy warblers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Bernieridae

The Malagasy warblers are a newly validated family of songbirds. They were formally named Bernieridae in 2010. The family currently consists of eleven species (in eight genera) of small forest birds. These birds are all endemic to Madagascar.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
White-throated oxylabes* Oxylabes madagascariensis LC
Long-billed bernieria* Bernieria madagascariensis LC
Cryptic warbler* Cryptosylvicola randriansoloi LC
Wedge-tailed jery* Hartertula flavoviridis NT
Thamnornis* Thamnornis chloropetoides LC
Yellow-browed oxylabes* Crossleyia xanthophrys NT
Spectacled tetraka* Xanthomixis zosterops LC
Appert's tetraka* Xanthomixis apperti VU
Dusky tetraka* Xanthomixis tenebrosus VU
Gray-crowned tetraka* Xanthomixis cinereiceps NT
Rand's warbler* Randia pseudozosterops LC


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Hirundinidae

The family Hirundinidae is adapted to aerial feeding. They have a slender streamlined body, long pointed wings, and a short bill with a wide gape. The feet are adapted to perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Plain martin Riparia paludicola LC
Bank swallow Riparia riparia Rare/Accidental LC
Mascarene martin Phedina borbonica LC
Barn swallow Hirundo rustica Rare/Accidental LC
Common house-martin Delichon urbicum Rare/Accidental LC


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Pycnonotidae

Bulbuls are medium-sized songbirds. Some are colourful with yellow, red, or orange vents, cheeks, throats, or supercilia, but most are drab, with uniform olive-brown to black plumage. Some species have distinct crests.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Malagasy bulbul Hypsipetes madagascariensis LC

White-eyes, yuhinas, and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Zosteropidae

The white-eyes are small birds of rather drab appearance, the plumage above being typically greenish-olive, but some species have a white or bright yellow throat, breast, or lower parts, and several have buff flanks. As the name suggests, many species have a white ring around each eye.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Malagasy white-eye Zosterops maderaspatanus LC


Order: Passeriformes   Family: Sturnidae

Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds. Their flight is strong and direct and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country. They eat insects and fruit. Plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Wattled starling Creatophora cinerea Very rare vagrant LC
Common myna% Acridotheres tristis Introduced and spreading LC
Madagascar starling* Hartlaubius auratus Fairly common northwest, north and east LC

Old World flycatchers[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Muscicapidae

Old World flycatchers are a large group of small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is highly varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Madagascar magpie-robin* Copsychus albospecularis LC
Forest rock-thrush* Monticola sharpei LC
Littoral rock-thrush* Monticola imerinus LC
African stonechat* Saxicola torquatus LC
Northern wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Very rare vagrant[30] LC

Sunbirds and spiderhunters[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Nectariniidae

The sunbirds and spiderhunters are very small passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Their flight is fast and direct on short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Souimanga sunbird Cinnyris sovimanga LC
Malagasy sunbird Cinnyris notatus LC

Weavers and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Ploceidae

The weavers are small passerine birds related to the finches. They are seed-eating birds with rounded conical bills. The males of many species are brightly coloured, usually in red or yellow and black, but some species show variation in colour only in the breeding season.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Nelicourvi weaver* Ploceus nelicourvi Fairly common in suitable habitat LC
Sakalava weaver* Ploceus sakalava LC
Red fody* Foudia madagascariensis Very common LC
Forest fody* Foudia omissa Fairly common LC

Waxbills and allies[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Estrildidae

The estrildid finches are small passerine birds of the Old World tropics and Australasia. They are gregarious and often colonial seed eaters with short thick but pointed bills. They are all similar in structure and habits, but have wide variation in plumage colours and patterns.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Common waxbill% Estrilda astrild Introduced and local LC
Madagascar munia* Lepidopygia nana Common in suitable habitat LC

Old World sparrows[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Passeridae

Sparrows are small passerine birds, typically small, plump, brown or grey with short tails and short powerful beaks. They are seed-eaters, but also consume small insects.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
House sparrow% Passer domesticus LC

Wagtails and pipits[edit]

Order: Passeriformes   Family: Motacillidae

Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails and comprises the wagtails, longclaws, and pipits. These are slender ground-feeding insectivores of open country.

Common name Scientific name Status IUCN code
Madagascar wagtail* Motacilla flaviventris LC

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karanth, K. Praveen (March 2006). "Out-of-India Gondwanan origin of some tropical Asian biota" (PDF). Current Science. 90 (6): 789–792.
  2. ^ Morris & Hawkins (1998), p. 5.
  3. ^ "IUCN Red List". IUCN. Retrieved 15 April 2009.
  4. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 108
  5. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 36
  6. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 40
  7. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 46
  8. ^ Mwema, Martin; Razafindrajao, Felix (March 2006). "First Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens sightings in Madagascar since 1960". The Bulletin of the African Bird Club. 13 (1): 86–87.
  9. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 54
  10. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 68
  11. ^ "Madagascar Crested Ibis – BirdLife Species Factsheet". BirdLife International. Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  12. ^ "Haliaeetus vociferoides". IUCN. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  13. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 112
  14. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 128
  15. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 190
  16. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 218
  17. ^ a b Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 284
  18. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 260
  19. ^ Morris & Hawkins 1998, p. 292
  20. ^ Walker, Matt (2010-05-26). "Bird conservation: Alaotra grebe confirmed extinct". BBC News Online. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  21. ^ Jarvis, E.D.; et al. (2014). "Whole-genome analyses resolve early branches in the tree of life of modern birds". Science. 346 (6215): 1320–1331. doi:10.1126/science.1253451. PMC 4405904. PMID 25504713.
  22. ^ Goodman, Steven M.; Raherilalao, Marie Jean; Block, Nicholas L (2011). "Patterns of morphological and genetic variation in the Mentocrex kioloides complex (Aves: Gruiformes: Rallidae) from Madagascar, with the description of a new species" (PDF). Zootaxa. 2776: 49–60. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.2776.1.3.
  23. ^ Patient, R. (March 2003). "The first Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata for Madagascar". African Bird Club Bulletin. 10 (1): 50. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  24. ^ a b Rush, Cuan; Hoddinott, David (September 2014). "First records of Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Red-necked Phalarope for Madagascar". African Bird Club Bulletin. 21 (2): 224–226. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  25. ^ Harrison, Peter; Peterson, Roger Tory (1991). Seabirds: A Complete Guide to the Seabirds of the World (Helm Identification Guides). Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-7136-3510-X.
  26. ^ Rollinson, Dominic P. (September 2015). "Rare seabird sightings off north and west Madagascar, January–February 2014". African Bird Club Bulletin. 22 (2): 204–208.
  27. ^ del Hoyo, J. Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (2001)
  28. ^ del Hoyo, J. Elliott, A. & Christie, D. (editors). (2003) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-50-4
  29. ^ Linders, Theo E. W.; Langrand, Olivier (September 2014). "First record of House Crow for Madagascar – potential impacts and suggested management of an invasive bird species". African Bird Club Bulletin. 21 (2): 216–219. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  30. ^ Koenig, Paul (September 2009). "Prèmiere mention du Traquet motteux Oenanthe oenanthe pour Madagascar". African Bird Club Bulletin (in French). 16 (2): 223.


  • Morris, Pete; Hawkins, Frank (1998). Birds of Madagascar: A Photographic Guide. Mountfield, UK: Pica Press. ISBN 1-873403-45-3.
  • Sinclair, Ian; Langrand, Olivier (1998). Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands. Cape Town, South Africa: Struik. ISBN 1-86872-956-7.

External links[edit]