The red fody (Foudia madagascariensis), sometimes known as the Madagascar fody, red cardinal fody or common fody, is a small bird native to Madagascar and introduced to various other islands in the Indian Ocean. It is a common bird within its restricted range, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "least concern".
The red fody is about 5 inches (13 cm) in length and weighs 14–19 grams (0.49–0.67 oz). The male of the species is bright red with black markings around each eye. Its wings and tail are olive-brown. Its underparts are also red, which distinguishes it from other fodies in areas where it has been introduced. The female fody's upper parts are olive-brown and its underparts are greyish brown.
Distribution and habitat
It is a common bird found in forest clearings, grasslands and cultivated areas, but not in dense forest. In Madagascar it is regarded as a pest of rice cultivation. It has been introduced to other areas of the Indian Ocean, included the Amirantes, Comoros, Seychelles, Mauritius and Réunion.
Outside the breeding season, this bird is gregarious. As the breeding season approaches, males establish territories, about 30 m (100 ft) in diameter. The birds are monogamous, and the male starts building the nest in the centre of the territory before courtship commences, with nests being clustered together in loose colonies. The nest is globular with a side entrance and porch or short tube. It is constructed, mostly by the male, out of rootlets, tendrils, grasses and other long strands of vegetation, woven together. The nest takes around eight days to build, and many get abandoned if the male fails to attract a mate.
Impact on native birds
In different parts of its introduced range, this species show different impacts on native birds. Both the endangered Mauritius fody (Foudia rubra) and the Rodrigues fody (Foudia flavicans) have been affected by the competition for resources on their respective islands.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Foudia madagascariensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
- Safford, Roger; Hawkins, Frank (2013). The Birds of Africa: Volume VIII: The Malagasy Region: Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, Mascarenes. A&C Black. pp. 892–896. ISBN 978-0-7136-6532-1.
- Lever, Christopher (2010). Naturalised Birds of the World. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 276. ISBN 978-1-4081-2825-1.
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- Red fody species text on Weaver Watch