Birds of Madagascar – 115 Species Are Endemic to Madagascar

List Birds of Madagascar - Species Are Endemic to Madagascar
Birds of Madagascar

Madagascar is home to many special birds that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. In fact, 115 bird species only live on this large island off the coast of Africa. Let’s explore the amazing birds of Madagascar!

Why Madagascar’s Birds Are So Special

Madagascar split off from other land masses millions of years ago. This allowed the birds there to evolve in isolation, resulting in many one-of-a-kind species. Some key things that make Madagascar’s birds special:

  • 5 bird families are only found on Madagascar
  • Over 100 species live nowhere else
  • Many have odd features not seen in other birds
  • Some are very rare and hard to spot

Endemic Bird Families of Madagascar

Madagascar has 5 bird families that live only on the island:


Mesites are small ground-dwelling birds. There are 3 species:

  • Brown Mesite
  • White-breasted Mesite
  • Subdesert Mesite

They have long legs and short wings. Mesites eat insects on the forest floor.


Ground-rollers are colorful birds that spend time on the ground. The 5 species are:

  • Short-legged Ground-Roller
  • Scaly Ground-Roller
  • Pitta-like Ground-Roller
  • Rufous-headed Ground-Roller
  • Long-tailed Ground-Roller

They have big heads and strong bills for catching insects and small animals.


Asities are small, brightly colored birds. The 4 species are:

  • Velvet Asity
  • Common Sunbird-Asity
  • Yellow-bellied Sunbird-Asity
  • Schlegel’s Asity

Male asities have bright wattles around their eyes to attract females.

Malagasy Warblers

This family has 11 species of small songbirds, including:

  • Gray Emu-tail
  • Wedge-tailed Jery
  • Cryptic Warbler

They hop through bushes and trees looking for insects to eat.


Vangas are a diverse family with 22 species of different shapes and sizes. Some examples:

  • Sickle-billed Vanga
  • Helmet Vanga
  • Nuthatch Vanga
  • Hook-billed Vanga

Vangas have evolved to fill many different feeding niches in Madagascar’s forests.

Other Notable Endemic Birds

Besides the 5 special families, Madagascar has many other birds found nowhere else. Here are some of the most interesting:

Cuckoo Roller

This odd bird is the only member of its family. It has a large head, hooked bill, and long tail. Cuckoo rollers eat insects and small animals.


Couas are related to cuckoos. The 9 species in Madagascar include:

  • Giant Coua
  • Running Coua
  • Red-breasted Coua

They have long tails and strong legs for walking on the ground.

Madagascar Fish Eagle

This large bird of prey lives near water and catches fish. Fewer than 250 are left in the wild.

Madagascar Serpent Eagle

Another rare bird of prey, it hunts snakes and lizards in the rainforest.

Madagascar Pochard

This diving duck was thought extinct until rediscovered in 2006. Only about 25 remain in the wild.

Habitats for Madagascar’s Birds

Madagascar has several types of habitat where birds live:


The eastern part of the island has thick, wet forests. Many endemic birds live here, like:

  • Short-legged Ground-Roller
  • Red-fronted Coua
  • Madagascar Blue Pigeon

Dry Deciduous Forest

The western side has forests that lose leaves in the dry season. Birds here include:

  • White-breasted Mesite
  • Coquerel’s Coua
  • Sickle-billed Vanga

Spiny Forest

The southwest has odd-looking spiny plants. Special birds found here:

  • Long-tailed Ground-Roller
  • Subdesert Mesite
  • Lafresnaye’s Vanga


Lakes, rivers, and coastal areas host water birds like:

  • Madagascar Plover
  • Sakalava Rail
  • Madagascar Sacred Ibis

Threats to Madagascar’s Birds

Many of Madagascar’s special birds are in danger. The biggest threats are:

  • Cutting down forests for farming
  • Hunting birds for food
  • Climate change affecting habitats
  • Introduced animals like rats eating eggs

Over 40 endemic species are at risk of dying out. Protecting forests and educating people about birds can help save them.

Birding in Madagascar

Birdwatchers from around the world come to see Madagascar’s special birds. Some top spots for birding include:

  • Andasibe-Mantadia National Park – great for ground-rollers and rainforest birds
  • Ranomafana National Park – home to many rare species
  • Berenty Reserve – good for seeing lemurs and dry forest birds
  • Ifaty spiny forest – to find birds of the southwest

The best time to visit is September to December when many birds are breeding. Hiring a local guide can help find hard-to-spot species.

Fun Facts About Madagascar’s Birds

  • The elephant bird, which went extinct around 1000 AD, was the largest bird ever at 10 feet tall!
  • Male vangas sing duets with their mates, taking turns singing parts of the song.
  • The long-tailed ground-roller can run very fast on its long legs.
  • Couas make their nests out of saliva and plant fibers.
  • The hook-billed vanga uses its curved bill to pry insects out of tree bark.


Madagascar’s birds are truly special. With so many species found nowhere else, the island is a treasure trove for bird lovers. Protecting these amazing birds and their habitats is important to make sure future generations can enjoy them too.

Here is a table summarizing some key facts about Madagascar’s endemic birds:

Bird GroupNumber of SpeciesInteresting Features
Mesites3Ground-dwelling, long legs
Ground-Rollers5Colorful, catch prey on ground
Asities4Bright wattles on males
Malagasy Warblers11Small insect-eaters
Vangas22Wide variety of shapes/sizes
Couas9Long tails, walk on ground

Madagascar’s birds show how isolation can lead to amazing diversity. From the odd cuckoo roller to the colorful ground-rollers and vangas, the island’s birds are unlike any others on Earth. Seeing these special birds in their natural habitats is an unforgettable experience for any bird lover.


Q: What are some of the bird species endemic to Madagascar?

A: Some bird species endemic to Madagascar include the Madagascar Fish Eagle, the Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher, and the Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher. These species are unique to the island and aren’t found anywhere else in the world.

Q: Can you provide product details for a good field guide on the Birds of Madagascar?

A: A recommended field guide for birding Madagascar is “Field Guide to the Birds of Madagascar” by Hawkins, Sinclair, and Langrand. This guide features detailed descriptions and photographs of various species, including endemic ones, making it an essential resource for birdwatchers.

Q: Are there any customer reviews for “Field Guide to the Birds of Madagascar” available online?

A: Yes, customer reviews for “Field Guide to the Birds of Madagascar” can be found on platforms like Many reviewers appreciate the comprehensive species coverage and high-quality photographs.

Q: What is special about birding in Madagascar compared to other Indian Ocean islands like Mauritius or Seychelles?

A: Birding in Madagascar is unique because over 50% of the bird species on the island are endemic. Unlike Mauritius and Seychelles, Madagascar’s diverse habitats support a higher number of unique species, making it a prime destination for birding enthusiasts.

Q: Are any of Madagascar’s birds globally threatened?

A: Yes, some of the bird species in Madagascar, such as the Madagascar Fish Eagle and the Madagascar Pochard, are considered globally threatened. Due to habitat loss and other factors, these species are at risk of extinction.

Q: What types of seabirds can be found around Madagascar?

A: Seabirds such as frigatebirds, terns, and boobies can be found around Madagascar. These birds are often gregarious and can be spotted along the island’s extensive coastline.

Q: Are elephant birds from Madagascar still alive?

A: No, elephant birds, which were once endemic to Madagascar, are now extinct. These gigantic, flightless birds went extinct several centuries ago due to human activity and environmental changes.

Q: What is the significance of the Madagascar Sunbird?

A: The Madagascar Sunbird is an important species endemic to Madagascar. Known for its vibrant plumage, this bird plays a crucial role in pollination within its habitat.

Q: Can drongos be found in Madagascar?

A: Yes, the Crested Drongo is a common bird species found in Madagascar. Known for its glossy black plumage, this bird is often seen in the island’s forests.

Q: Why is the Madagascar Pochard significant in terms of conservation?

A: The Madagascar Pochard is significant due to its critically endangered status. Conservation efforts are crucial to save this species from the brink of extinction, as there are very few individuals left in the wild.

Table of 115 Species Are Endemic to Madagascar:

No.Common NameScientific NameHabitatStatus
1Gray Mouse LemurMicrocebus murinusWestern and southern forestsLeast Concern
2Lesser Hedgehog TenrecEchinops telfairiVarious habitats, forest edgesLeast Concern
3FossaCryptoprocta feroxForestsVulnerable
4Radiated TortoiseAstrochelys radiataSouthern MadagascarCritically Endangered
5Greater Bamboo LemurProlemur simusBamboo forestsCritically Endangered
6Malagasy CivetFossa fossanaTropical forestsVulnerable
7Madagascar Fish EagleHaliaeetus vociferoidesNorthwest coastal regionsCritically Endangered
8Aye-ayeDaubentonia madagascariensisVarious forestsEndangered
9Madagascan Flying FoxPteropus rufusLowland forestsVulnerable
10Tomato FrogDyscophus antongiliiNortheastern MadagascarLeast Concern
11Darwin’s Bark SpiderCaerostris darwiniRainforests, along riversLeast Concern
12Silky SifakaPropithecus candidusNorthern rainforestsCritically Endangered
13Panther ChameleonFurcifer pardalisVarious forests, shrubsLeast Concern
14Golden MantellaMantella aurantiacaSwamps and moist forestsCritically Endangered
15Leaf-tailed GeckoUroplatus phantasticusRainforestsLeast Concern
16Ploughshare TortoiseAstrochelys yniphoraDry forests in the northwestCritically Endangered
17Madagascar PochardAythya innotataLakes and marshesCritically Endangered
18Madagascar Giant Day GeckoPhelsuma madagascariensisRainforests, urban areasLeast Concern
19Blue CouaCoua caeruleaVarious forestsLeast Concern
20Madagascar Tree BoaSanzinia madagascariensisRainforests, dry forestsLeast Concern
21Madagascar PeriwinkleCatharanthus roseusDry coastal regions, disturbed areasLeast Concern
22Madagascan Fish EagleHaliaeetus vociferoidesNorthwest coastal regionsCritically Endangered
23Hildebrandt’s Elephant BirdAepyornis hildebrandtiExtinct, former forestsExtinct
24Giant Elephant BirdAepyornis maximusExtinct, former forestsExtinct
25Madagascar Tomato FrogDyscophus antongiliiNortheastern MadagascarLeast Concern
26Tapia TreeUapaca bojeriTapia forestsLeast Concern
27Malagasy Flying FoxPteropus rufusSubtropical and tropical forestsVulnerable
28Madagascar HeronArdea humblotiWetlands and marshesEndangered
29Fanaloka (Malagasy Civet)Fossa fossanaTropical forestsVulnerable
30Flat-tailed TortoisePyxis planicaudaDry deciduous forestsCritically Endangered
31Black-and-White Ruffed LemurVarecia variegataEastern rainforestsCritically Endangered
32Blue-eyed Black LemurEulemur flavifronsNorthwest dry deciduous forestsCritically Endangered
33Claire’s Mouse LemurMicrocebus mamiratraNorthern MadagascarEndangered
34Diademed SifakaPropithecus diademaEastern rainforestsCritically Endangered
35Eastern VoalavoVoalavo antsahabensisHigh-altitude rainforestsVulnerable
36Fleurete’s Sportive LemurLepilemur fleuretaeNorthwest dry deciduous forestsEndangered
37Gerp’s Mouse LemurMicrocebus gerpiEastern rainforestsEndangered
38Golden Bamboo LemurHapalemur aureusSoutheastern rainforestsCritically Endangered
39Golden-crowned SifakaPropithecus tattersalliNorthern dry deciduous forestsCritically Endangered
40Grandidier’s MongooseGalidictis grandidieriSpiny forests of the southwestEndangered
41Gray-headed LemurEulemur cinereicepsSoutheastern lowland forestsCritically Endangered
42Greater Big-footed MouseMacrotarsomys ingensWestern dry forestsEndangered
43Hairy-tailed AntsangyBrachytarsomys villosaEastern rainforestsVulnerable
44Hawks’ Sportive LemurLepilemur tymerlachsonorumNorthwestern dry deciduous forestsEndangered
45IndriIndri indriEastern rainforestsCritically Endangered
46Isalo SerotineNeoromicia malagasyensisWestern dry forestsData Deficient
47James’ Sportive LemurLepilemur jamesorumSoutheastern rainforestsEndangered
48Jenkins’ Shrew TenrecMicrogale jenkinsaeEastern rainforestsData Deficient
49Lac Alaotra Bamboo LemurHapalemur alaotrensisWetlands around Lac AlaotraCritically Endangered
50Madagascar Fish-eagleHaliaeetus vociferoidesNorthwest coastal regionsCritically Endangered
51Madagascar BuzzardButeo brachypterusVarious forest habitatsLeast Concern
52Madagascar HoopoeUpupa marginataForests and savannasLeast Concern
53Short-legged Ground-rollerBrachypteracias leptosomusForest floor of rainforestsVulnerable
54Scaly Ground-rollerGeobiastes squamigerRainforest undergrowthVulnerable
55Long-tailed Ground-rollerUratelornis chimaeraDry spiny forestsVulnerable
56Pitta-like Ground-rollerAtelornis pittoidesLowland rainforestsNear Threatened
57Rufous-headed Ground-rollerAtelornis crossleyiEastern rainforestsNear Threatened
58Madagascar Pygmy-kingfisherCorythornis madagascariensisForested areas near waterLeast Concern
59Banded KestrelFalco zoniventrisVarious open habitatsLeast Concern
60Black ParrotCoracopsis nigraForestsLeast Concern
61Grey-headed LovebirdAgapornis canusForest edges and clearingsLeast Concern
62Velvet AsityPhilepitta castaneaRainforestsNear Threatened
63Schlegel’s AsityPhilepitta schlegeliDry deciduous forestsNear Threatened
64Common Sunbird-AsityNeodrepanis coruscansRainforestsLeast Concern
65Yellow-bellied Sunbird-asityNeodrepanis hypoxanthaMontane forestsEndangered
66Common NewtoniaNewtonia brunneicaudaVarious forest habitatsLeast Concern
67Red-tailed NewtoniaNewtonia fanovanaeRainforestsEndangered
68Northern Dark NewtoniaNewtonia amphichroaRainforestsVulnerable
69Tylas VangaTylas eduardiRainforestsLeast Concern
70Helmet VangaEuryceros prevostiiEastern rainforestsNear Threatened
71Pollen’s VangaXenopirostris polleniDry deciduous forestsNear Threatened
72Lafresnaye’s VangaXenopirostris xenopirostrisDry deciduous forestsNear Threatened
73Van Dam’s VangaXenopirostris damiiWestern dry forestsEndangered
74Bernier’s VangaOriolia bernieriRainforestsEndangered
75Sickle-billed VangaFalculea palliataDry forests and spiny forestsLeast Concern
76White-headed VangaArtamella viridisRainforestsLeast Concern
77Madagascar LarkEremopterix hovaOpen grasslandsLeast Concern
78Green JeryNeomixis viridisRainforestsLeast Concern
79Common JeryNeomixis tenellaVarious forests and scrublandsLeast Concern
80Stripe-throated JeryNeomixis striatigulaRainforestsLeast Concern
81Subdesert JeryNeomixis pallidiorDry forests and scrublandsLeast Concern
82Subdesert Brush-warblerNesillas lantziiDry deciduous forestsLeast Concern
83Madagascar Swamp-warblerAcrocephalus newtoniWetlandsLeast Concern
84Brown Emu-tailBradypterus brunneusForest undergrowthLeast Concern
85Madagascar GrassbirdAmphilais seebohmiGrasslands and wetlandsLeast Concern
86Painted MantellaMantella madagascariensisEastern and central rainforestsNear Threatened
87Satanic Leaf-Tailed GeckoUroplatus phantasticusTropical forestsVulnerable
88Madagascar Serpent EagleEutriorchis asturEastern rainforestsEndangered
89Meller’s DuckAnas melleriFreshwater bodies in forested areasEndangered
90Bernier’s TealAnas bernieriWetlands and shallow water bodiesEndangered
91Madagascar FodyFoudia madagascariensisVarious habitatsLeast Concern
92Madagascar Hissing CockroachGromphadorhina portentosaForest floorLeast Concern
93Madagascar Long-Eared OwlAsio madagascariensisForestsLeast Concern
94Lowland Streaked TenrecHemicentetes semispinosusLowland tropical rainforestsLeast Concern
95Verreaux’s SifakaPropithecus verreauxiWestern and southeastern dry forestsCritically Endangered
96Bamboo LemurHapalemur spp.Bamboo forestsVulnerable to Endangered
97Madagascar Blue PigeonAlectroenas madagascariensisNorthern and eastern MadagascarLeast Concern
98Red FodyFoudia madagascariensisVarious habitatsLeast Concern
99Madagascar Green PigeonTreron australisSubtropical or tropical dry and moist forestsLeast Concern
100Crested DrongoDicrurus forficatusDry and humid lowland forests, savannasLeast Concern
101Madagascar Cuckoo-HawkAviceda madagascariensisForests and savannasVulnerable
102Red-fronted CouaCoua reynaudiiForestsLeast Concern
103Red-capped CouaCoua ruficepsForestsLeast Concern
104Red-breasted CouaCoua serrianaForestsNear Threatened
105Yellow-browed OxylabesCrossleyia xanthophrysForestsVulnerable
106Madagascar StarlingHartlaubius auratusForestsLeast Concern
107Wedge-tailed JeryHartertula flavoviridisForestsLeast Concern
108Madagascar Pygmy KingfisherCorythornis madagascariensisForestsLeast Concern
109White-throated RailDryolimnas cuvieriWetlandsLeast Concern
110Broad-billed RollerEurystomus glaucurusForests and savannasLeast Concern
111Madagascar Crested IbisLophotibis cristataForestsLeast Concern
112Madagascar ButtonquailTurnix nigricollisDry forests and scrublandsLeast Concern
113Madagascar PartridgeMargaroperdix madagarensisVarious habitatsLeast Concern
114Madagascar SandgrousePterocles personatusArid and semi-arid areasNear Threatened
115Subdesert MesiteMonias benschiDry forestsVulnerable
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I absolutely adore birds, especially lovebirds, and I’m passionate about exploring forests for bird watching. I wanted to create a space for fellow bird lovers to connect, learn, and share experiences.