List of birds of the Comoros
This is a list of the bird species recorded in the Comoros. The avifauna of the Comoros include a total of 146 species, of which 14 are endemic, 6 have been introduced by humans, and 23 are rare or accidental. 9 species are globally threatened.
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, 6th 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 the Comoros.
The following tags have been used to highlight several categories. The commonly occurring native species do not fall into any of these categories.
- (A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in the Comoros
- (E) Endemic - a species endemic to the Comoros
- (I) Introduced - a species introduced to the Comoros as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions
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. There are 20 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Little grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis
Shearwaters and petrels
The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with medium septum and a long outer functional primary.
Tropicbirds are slender white birds of tropical oceans, with exceptionally long central tail feathers. Their heads and long wings have black markings. There are 3 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the Comoros.
Boobies and gannets
Darters are often called "snake-birds" because of their long thin neck, 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.
- Darter, Anhinga melanogaster
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.
Bitterns, herons and egrets
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.
- Grey heron, Ardea cinerea
- Humblot's heron, Ardea humbloti (A)
- Great egret, Ardea alba
- Western reef heron, Egretta gularis
- Little egret, Egretta garzetta
- Squacco heron, Ardeola ralloides
- Malagasy pond heron, Ardeola idae
- Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis
- Striated heron, Butorides striata
- Black-crowned night heron, Nycticorax nycticorax
Ibises and spoonbills
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.
- Sacred ibis, Threskiornis aethiopicus
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. There are 6 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the Comoros.
Ducks, geese and swans
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.
- White-faced whistling duck, Dendrocygna viduata (A)
Hawks, kites and eagles
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.
- Black kite, Milvus migrans
- Malagasy harrier, Circus macrosceles
- Frances's goshawk, Accipiter francesii
Caracaras and falcons
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. There are 62 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the Comoros.
- Madagascar kestrel, Falco newtoni (A)
- Eleonora's falcon, Falco eleonorae (A)
- Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus
Pheasants and partridges
The Phasianidae are a family of terrestrial birds which consists of quails, partridges, snowcocks, francolins, spurfowls, tragopans, monals, pheasants, peafowls and jungle fowls. In general, they are plump (although they vary in size) and have broad, relatively short wings. There is 1 species which has been recorded in the Comoros.
- Common quail, Coturnix coturnix
Guineafowl are a group of African, seed-eating, ground-nesting birds that resemble partridges, but with featherless heads and spangled grey plumage. There are 6 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Helmeted guineafowl, Numida meleagris (I)
Rails, crakes, gallinules and coots
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. There are 143 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in the Comoros.
- White-throated rail, Dryolimnas cuvieri
- Striped crake, Aenigmatolimnas marginalis
- Allen's gallinule, Porphyrio alleni (A)
- Common moorhen, Gallinula chloropus
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.
- Crab plover, Dromas ardeola
Pratincoles and coursers
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. There are 17 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Madagascar pratincole, Glareola ocularis (A)
Plovers and lapwings
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. There are 66 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in the Comoros.
- Pacific golden-plover, Pluvialis fulva (A)
- Black-bellied plover, Pluvialis squatarola
- Common ringed plover, Charadrius hiaticula
- White-fronted plover, Charadrius marginatus (A)
- Lesser sandplover, Charadrius mongolus (A)
- Greater sandplover, Charadrius leschenaultii
Sandpipers and allies
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. Variation in length of legs and bills enables multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. There are 89 species worldwide and 16 species which occur in the Comoros.
- Pintail snipe, Gallinago stenura
- Black-tailed godwit, Limosa limosa (A)
- Bar-tailed godwit, Limosa lapponica (A)
- Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus
- Slender-billed curlew, Numenius tenuirostris
- Eurasian curlew, Numenius arquata
- Marsh sandpiper, Tringa stagnatilis
- Common greenshank, Tringa nebularia
- Wood sandpiper, Tringa glareola
- Terek sandpiper, Xenus cinereus
- Common sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos
- Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres
- Sanderling, Calidris alba
- Little stint, Calidris minuta (A)
- Curlew sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea
- Ruff, Philomachus pugnax (A)
Skuas and jaegers
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. There are 7 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- South polar skua, Stercorarius maccormicki
Gulls, terns, and skimmers
Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds, the gulls, terns, and skimmers. They 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.
- Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus
- Grey-headed gull, Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus (A)
- Gull-billed tern, Gelochelidon nilotica
- Caspian tern, Hydroprogne caspia (A)
- Lesser crested tern, Thalasseus bengalensis
- Great crested tern, Thalasseus bergii (A)
- Black-naped tern, Sterna sumatrana
- Common tern, Sterna hirundo
- Little tern, Sternula albifrons
- Saunders's tern, Sternula saundersi
- Bridled tern, Onychoprion anaethetus (A)
- Sooty tern, Onychoprion fuscatus (A)
- Lesser noddy, Anous tenuirostris
- Brown noddy, Anous stolidus
- White tern, Gygis alba
Pigeons and doves
- Rock pigeon, Columba livia (I)
- Comoro pigeon, Columba polleni (E)
- European turtle dove, Streptopelia turtur
- Ring-necked dove, Streptopelia capicola
- Malagasy turtle dove, Nesoenas picturatus
- Tambourine dove, Turtur tympanistria
- Madagascar green pigeon, Treron australis
- Comoro blue-pigeon, Alectroenas sganzini
Old world parrots
Parrots are small to large birds with a characteristic curved beak. Their upper mandibles have slight mobility in the joint with the skull and they have a generally erect stance. All parrots are zygodactyl, having the four toes on each foot placed two at the front and two to the back.
- Grey-headed lovebird, Agapornis canus (I)
- Greater vasa parrot, Coracopsis vasa
- Lesser vasa parrot, Coracopsis nigra
Cuckoos and anis
The family Cuculidae includes cuckoos, roadrunners and anis. These birds are of variable size with slender bodies, long tails and strong legs. There are 138 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the Comoros.
Barn owls are medium to large owls with large heads and characteristic heart-shaped faces. They have long strong legs with powerful talons. There are 16 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Barn owl, Tyto alba
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. There are 195 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the Comoros.
- Comoro scops owl, Otus pauliani (E)
- Anjouan scops owl, Otus capnodes (E)
- Moheli scops owl, Otus moheliensis (E)
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.
- Madagascan nightjar, Caprimulgus madagascariensis
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. There are 98 species worldwide and 6 species which occur in the Comoros.
- Malagasy spinetail, Zoonavena grandidieri
- Mottled spinetail, Telacanthura ussheri
- African palm-swift, Cypsiurus parvus
- Common swift, Apus apus
- African swift, Apus barbatus
- Madagascar swift, Apus balstoni
Kingfishers are medium-sized birds with large heads, long, pointed bills, short legs and stubby tails. There are 93 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Malagasy kingfisher, Corythornis vintsioides
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. There are 26 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the Comoros.
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. There are 12 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the Comoros.
The cuckoo-roller is an insectivorous medium-sized bird of the forests of Madagascar and the Comoros. Unlike the true rollers and ground rollers, where the sexes have identical appearance, the male and female cuckoo roller have distinctive plumages. Males are mostly velvety grey. The back, tail, and wings are dark shiny green. They have a black eyestripe. Females and young birds are mostly brown marked with darker streaks.
- Cuckoo-Roller, Leptosomus discolor
Swallows and martins
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. There are 75 species worldwide and 4 species which occur in the Comoros.
- Sand martin, Riparia riparia
- Mascarene martin, Phedina borbonica
- Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica
- Common house martin, Delichon urbicum
Wagtails and pipits
Motacillidae is a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. They include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. They are slender, ground feeding insectivores of open country. There are 54 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in the Comoros.
The cuckooshrikes are small to medium-sized passerine birds. They are predominantly greyish with white and black, although some species are brightly coloured.
- Ashy cuckooshrike, Coracina cinerea
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.
- Madagascar bulbul, Hypsipetes madagascariensis
- Grand Comoro bulbul, Hypsipetes parvirostris (E)
- Moheli bulbul, Hypsipetes moheliensis (E)
Thrushes and allies
The thrushes are a group of passerine birds that occur mainly in the Old World. They are plump, soft plumaged, small to medium-sized insectivores or sometimes omnivores, often feeding on the ground. Many have attractive songs. There are 335 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Comoro thrush, Turdus bewsheri (E)
Cisticolas and allies
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. There are 111 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Madagascar cisticola, Cisticola cherinus
- Anjouan brush warbler, Nesillas longicaudata (E)
- Grand Comoro brush warbler, Nesillas brevicaudata (E)
- Moheli brush warbler, Nesillas mariae (E)
Old World flycatchers
Old World flycatchers are a large group of small passerine birds native to the Old World. They are mainly small arboreal insectivores. The appearance of these birds is highly varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls. There are 4 species which have been recorded in the Comoros.
- Spotted flycatcher, Muscicapa striata
- Grand Comoro flycatcher, Humblotia flavirostris (E)
- African stonechat, Saxicola torquatus
- Northern wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe
The monarch flycatchers are small to medium-sized insectivorous passerines which hunt by flycatching.
- Madagascar paradise flycatcher, Terpsiphone mutata
Sunbirds and spiderhunters
The sunbirds and spiderhunters are very small passerine birds which feed largely on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. Flight is fast and direct on their short wings. Most species can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perch to feed.
- Souimanga sunbird, Cinnyris sovimanga
- Madagascar sunbird, Cinnyris notatus
- Humblot's sunbird, Cinnyris humbloti (E)
- Anjouan sunbird, Cinnyris comorensis (E)
The white-eyes are small and mostly undistinguished, their plumage above being generally some dull colour like greenish-olive, but some species have a white or bright yellow throat, breast or lower parts, and several have buff flanks. As their name suggests, many species have a white ring around each eye. There are 96 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the Comoros.
Old World orioles
The Old World orioles are colourful passerine birds. They are not related to the New World orioles. There are 29 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Eurasian golden oriole, Oriolus oriolus
Shrikes are passerine birds known for their habit of catching other birds and small animals and impaling the uneaten portions of their bodies on thorns. A typical shrike's beak is hooked, like a bird of prey. There are 31 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Lesser grey shrike, Lanius minor
The vangas are shrike-like, arboreal forest birds, feeding on reptiles, frogs and insects. There are 15 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Blue vanga, Cyanolanius madagascarinus
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. There are 24 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the Comoros.
Crows, jays, ravens and magpies
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. There are 120 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Pied crow, Corvus albus
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. There are 125 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Common myna, Acridotheres tristis (I)
Weavers and allies
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, some species show variation in colour only in the breeding season. There are 116 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in the Comoros.
Waxbills and allies
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. There are 141 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- Bronze mannikin, Spermestes cucullatus
Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed eaters, but they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in the Comoros.
- House sparrow, Passer domesticus (I)