Republic of Madagascar
Some of the World's most fascinating and endangered birds are endemic to Madagascar. Yet for its size - and taking into account its profusion of habitat types - Madagascar has relatively few bird species (only about 265). But it holds more endemic genera (37) than any other African country and its 120 endemic species include 5 endemic families, (2 have representatives in the Comoros) and 1 endemic subfamily. Another 25-odd species belong to interesting genera unique to the Western Indian Ocean islands.
To see the bulk of Madagascar's birds, you'll need to visit at least 1 site in each of the island's 3 chief climatic/floristic zones: eastern rainforest, southern spiny bush and western tropical deciduous forest. Each of these holds its own complement of endemics. In addition, a select band of birds is dependent on the island's dwindling wetlands, so be sure to include certain more accessible marshes, lakes and estuaries in your itinerary. Most birders also visit the transition forest of Zombitse National Park. During a stay of 2-3 weeks, and armed with the 2 excellent new field guides (the outstanding Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands by Ian Sinclair & Olivier Langrand is particularly user-friendly and clear in its layout); you should be able to tick off most of the sought-after lifers, as well as a remarkable array of mammals, reptiles, frogs, invertebrates and the fascinating flora.
When to go:
Birders tend to visit in the Malagasy spring and early summer, that is from the very end of August to December. In the winter months (May - mid August); the rainforests can be very quiet and many sought-after endemics extremely furtive. Also, in winter some of the more spectacular endemics like asitys, will be out of their impressive breeding regalia. Because lodges and hotels are fairly small at most of the birding venues, it is sensible to plan your trip fairly long in advance, to avoid disappointment. Below is a review of the Birding Hotspots.
The now highly fragmented rainforest band known as the great Madagascar Sylva, once covered almost all of humid eastern Madagascar. Some impressive rainforest blocks remain intact today and in these are situated several splendid National Parks which attract birders from around the globe. Malagasy rainforest birding is best in the Austral Spring and early summer (end August to late December). Always be sure to enter the rainforest just before daybreak, as then birding becomes really rewarding. And if it rains while you're in there, don't be deterred! As the local saying goes, it takes a lot of rain to have a good rainforest flourishing and rainforest-dependent wildlife tends to be just as active during rainy spells.
Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest
The hot western lowlands of Madagascar hold the last few stands of tropical dry deciduous forest. Here, woods are much lighter and birding is rewarding year round.
Straddling the RN7 national road between the Isalo sandstone mountains and the south-west coastal town Tulear is the transition forest of Zombitse, where western and southern forest types merge. The megatick in this very rewarding 21,500ha birding hotspot is the Appert's Greenbul, which exists nowhere else. You should also see a wide variety of other endemics, including Madagascar Sandgrouse, Madagascar Partridge, Giant and Olive-capped Couas, Lesser Vasa Parrot, Madagascar Hoopoe, Thamnornis Warbler, Common Newtonia, Common Jery, Long-billed Green & Souimanga Sunbirds and Sakalava Weaver. Zombitse makes for an ideal picnic stop and birding is excellent there all year.
Southern sub-arid thorn thicket
(spiny bush)This bizarre habitat features an assemblage of bloated and thorny, drought resistant trees and plants. It varies considerably in appearance across the region. All the southern sub-desert endemics are concentrated in a small area along the south-west coast, from Ifaty Beach to St Augustin Bay. Birding in the semi-arid south is good year round.
Eastern Rainforest - Masoala National Park
Exceptional birding is to be had in this park, which protects the largest remaining Malagasy lowland rainforest. Aside from nearly all the broadly distributed rainforest endemics, specials like the Brown Mesite, Red-breasted Coua, Scaly Ground-roller and the Helmet and Bernier's Vangas, abound. 2 extremely rare species; the Madagascar Serpent Eagle and Madagascar Red Owl, find sanctuary here. (Seeing either of these is never guaranteed however, as they are exceedingly elusive). Masoala is usually offered as an optional extension to the standard birding tour.
Eastern Rainforest - Perinet Reserve & Mantadia National Park
Usually, this readily accessible montane rainforest (3 hours drive east of Antananarivo) provides a perfect introduction to Madagascar birding. A 3-day stay here will allow you to explore Perinet, the nearby Mantadia National Park and also one of the local marshes. In Perinet (Analamazaotra/Andasibe) itself, you should tick off many generally distributed Malagasy endemics. Local specials include the Red-fronted Coua, Rand's Warbler, Coral-billed Nuthatch Vanga and Tylas. With luck, you'll see Madagascar Wood-rail, Madagascar Flufftail and Collared Nightjar.
A second day in the area should be used for the 10,000 ha Mantadia National Park, a great example of primary montane rainforest. This new park is deservedly becoming one of Madagascar's most visited birding hotspots. Its denizens include all 4 the rainforest-dwelling ground-rollers, the 3 oxylabes, all 3 rainforest-dependent asitys, Forest Rock-thrush and Brown Emutail. The bizarre Helmet Vanga is now known to occur there too.
NB Two marshes in the area - Torotorofotsy and Ampasipotsy - hold Meller's Duck, Madagascar Snipe, Madagascar Rail, Grey Emutail and Madagascar Swamp Warbler, among others. This is possibly the best place in which to seek the ultra rare Slender-billed Flufftail.
Eastern Rainforest - Ranomafana National Park
This very beautiful montane rainforest was declared a national park in the 1980s, primarily to protect various species of Lemur. It is arguably the island's single best rainforest birding locality. The ideal length of stay is 3 days, which will allow for time to take in some of the half-day or day walks in the park. Resident birds include the wary Brown Mesite, Henst's Goshawk and Madagascar Long-eared Owl. But heading the wish-lists of most birders are the 4 rainforest dwelling ground rollers. Of these, the pittalike, Rufous-headed and Short-legged are particularly frequently seen in Ranomafana. Other megaticks here include Velvet Asity, Common Sunbird Asity and all 3 oxylabes (Crossley's Babbler, White-throated Oxylabes and the rare, localised Yellow-browed Oxylabes); the Gray-crowned Greenbul, Forest Rock-thrush and Pollen's Vanga. Up on the high ridges, look for the Yellow-bellied Sunbird Asity, Brown Emutail and recently described Cryptic Warbler. At the nearby Vohiparara marsh, you might see the Madagascar Rail, Madagascar Flufftail, Grey Emutail and even the elusive Slender-billed Flufftail.
Spiny Bush - Ifaty Beach
29km north of the town Tulear by deeply rutted road you will find Ifaty Beach, the most important birding locality of the dry south.Here the euphorbia-didieraceae bush is at its tallest, with bottle baobabs and octopus trees being prominent features. Highly localised megaticks include the sub-Desert Mesite and Long-tailed Ground-roller as well as LaFresnaye's Vanga and Archbold's Newtonia. Look also for the Running Coua and Sub-desert Brush-warbler. Ifaty is also an excellent place in which to seek the uncommon Banded Kestrel, as well as the White-browed Owl (before dawn); Madagascar Nightjar and Madagascar Buttonquail.
Spiny Bush - St Augustin Bay
30kms south of Tulear is St Augustin Bay, where the vegetation is considerably lower than that in Ifaty. It is referred to as coral ragg scrub. The impressive baobabs and octopus trees are replaced by much bushy euphorbia and some bloated moringa trees. This is the best place in which to look for far southern specials like Verreaux' Coua, Littoral Rock-thrush and the recently described Red-shouldered Vanga. When passing small roadside puddles, keep an eye open for the increasingly rare Madagascar Plover.
Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest - Ankarafantsika Reserve & Ampijoroa Forest Station
The place included on all birders itineraries is Ampijoroa Forest Station, the tourist-accessible part of the Ankarafantsika Reserve. The local specials are mostly not hard to find: look for White-breasted Mesite, Coquerel's and Red-capped Couas and Van Dam's Vanga. Less easily seen is the Schlegel's Asity. Several vangas are quite common, including the Sicklebill, Rufous, Hook-billed, Blue and Chabert's Vangas. Raptors abound, including the very rare Madagascar Fish Eagle, Madagascar Gymnogene, Madagascar Buzzard, Madagascar Sparrowhawk and Frances's Sparrowhawk. More generally distributed species often encountered here include Madagascar Crested Ibis, White-throated Rail, Greater Vasa Parrot, Madagascar Green Pigeon and Madagascar Pygmy Kingfisher. At nearby wetlands, you might find Humblot's Heron, Madagascar White Ibis, Madagascar Jacana, Madagascar Pratincole and if you are very lucky, the rare Madagascar (Bernier's) Teal. (If you have a day to spare in the Mahajanga area, a boat excursion into the Bombetoka Bay may also deliver the wetland endemics).
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 258
(As at September 2018)
Number of endemics: 103
Is this the highest ratio of endemics to total number of species anywhere in the world?
Madagascar Partridge Margaroperdix madagarensis Meller's Duck Anas melleri Bernier's Teal Anas bernieri Madagascar Pochard Aythya innotata Madagascar Buttonquail Turnix nigricollis Madagascar Hoopoe Upupa marginata Short-legged Ground-Roller Brachypteracias leptosomus Scaly Ground-Roller Brachypteracias squamigera Pitta-like Ground-Roller Atelornis pittoides Rufous-headed Ground-Roller Atelornis crossleyi Long-tailed Ground-Roller Uratelornis chimaera Madagascar Pygmy-Kingfisher Ispidina madagascariensis Madagascar Cuckoo Cuculus rochii Giant Coua Coua gigas Coquerel`s Coua Coua coquereli Red-breasted Coua Coua serriana Red-fronted Coua Coua reynaudii Running Coua Coua cursor Red-capped Coua Coua ruficeps Crested Coua Coua cristata Verreaux`s Coua Coua verreauxi Blue Coua Coua caerulea Grey-headed Lovebird Agapornis canus Madagascar Red Owl Tyto soumagnei White-browed Hawk-Owl Ninox superciliaris Madagascar Owl Asio madagascariensis Collared Nightjar Caprimulgus enarratus Madagascar Blue-Pigeon Alectroenas madagascariensis Kioloides Rail Canirallus kioloides Madagascar Flufftail Sarothrura insularis Slender-billed Flufftail Sarothrura watersi Madagascar Rail Rallus madagascariensis Corn Crake Crex crex Sakalava Rail Amaurornis olivieri White-breasted Mesite Mesitornis variegata Brown Mesite Mesitornis unicolor Subdesert Mesite Monias benschi Madagascar Sandgrouse Pterocles personatus Madagascar Snipe Gallinago macrodactyla Madagascar Jacana Actophilornis albinucha Black-banded Plover Charadrius thoracicus Madagascar Pratincole Glareola ocularis Madagascar Baza Aviceda madagascariensis Madagascar Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus vociferoides Madagascar Serpent-Eagle Eutriorchis astur Madagascar Sparrowhawk Accipiter madagascariensis Henst`s Goshawk Accipiter henstii Madagascar Buzzard Buteo brachypterus Banded Kestrel Falco zoniventris Alaotra Grebe Tachybaptus rufolavatus Madagascar Grebe Tachybaptus pelzelnii Humblot's Heron Ardea humbloti White-winged Ibis Lophotibis cristata Velvet Asity Philepitta castanea Schlegel's Asity Philepitta schlegeli Sunbird Asity Neodrepanis coruscans Yellow-bellied Asity Neodrepanis hypoxantha Ward's Shrike-flycatcher Pseudobias wardi Red-tailed Vanga Calicalicus madagascariensis Rufous Vanga Schetba rufa Hook-billed Vanga Vanga curvirostris Lafresnaye's Vanga Xenopirostris xenopirostris Van Dam`s Vanga Xenopirostris damii Pollen's Vanga Xenopirostris polleni Sickle-billed Vanga Falculea palliata White-headed Vanga Artamella viridis Chabert's Vanga Leptopterus chabert Bernier's Vanga Oriolia bernieri Helmet Vanga Euryceros prevostii Tylas Vanga Tylas eduardi Nuthatch Vanga Hypositta corallirostris Forest Rock-Thrush Pseudocossyphus sharpei Benson's Rock-Thrush Pseudocossyphus bensoni Littoral Rock-Thrush Pseudocossyphus imerinus Madagascar Magpie-Robin Copsychus albospecularis Madagascar Starling Saroglossa aurata Long-billed Greenbul Phyllastrephus madagascariensis Spectacled Greenbul Phyllastrephus zosterops Appert's Greenbul Phyllastrephus apperti Dusky Greenbul Phyllastrephus tenebrosus Grey-crowned Greenbul Phyllastrephus cinereiceps Cryptic Warbler Cryptosylvicola randrianasoloi Brown Emu-tail Dromaeocercus brunneus Grey Emu-tail Dromaeocercus seebohmi Madagascar Brush-Warbler Nesillas typica Thamnornis Warbler Thamnornis chloropetoides Madagascar Swamp-Warbler Acrocephalus newtoni Rand's Warbler Randia pseudozosterops Dark Newtonia Newtonia amphichroa Common Newtonia Newtonia brunneicauda Archbold`s Newtonia Newtonia archboldi Red-tailed Newtonia Newtonia fanovanae Common Jery Neomixis tenella Green Jery Neomixis viridis Stripe-throated Jery Neomixis striatigula Wedge-tailed Jery Neomixis flavoviridis White-throated Oxylabes Oxylabes madagascariensis Yellow-browed Oxylabes Crossleyia xanthophrys Crossley's Babbler Mystacornis crossleyi Madagascar Lark Mirafra hova Madagascar Wagtail Motacilla flaviventris Nelicourvi Weaver Ploceus nelicourvi Sakalava Weaver Ploceus sakalava Madagascar Red Fody Foudia madagascariensis Forest Fody Foudia omissa Madagascar Munia Lemuresthes nana
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A Field Guide to the Birds of Madagascar
By S Yamagishi, T Masuda & H Rakotomanana | Kaiyusha Publishers Co | 1997 | Paperback | 158 pages, colour illustrations | Text Japanese |
ISBN: 4905930812Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Madagascar - A Photographic Guide
By Pete Morris, Frank Hawkins & Mark Andrews | Pica Press | 2000 | Hardback | 316 pages, 450 col photos, maps |
ISBN: 1873403453Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands
By Frank Hawkins, Roger Safford, Adrian Skerrett, John Gale & Brian Small | Christopher Helm | 2015 | Hardback | 336 Pages | 124 Colour plates with colour illustrations; ~350 colour distribution maps |
ISBN: 9781472924094Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands
(Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Rodrigues, Seychelles and the Comoros) | By Ian Sinclair, Olivier Langrand, Norman Arlott, Hilary Burn, Peter Hayman & Ian Lewington | New Holland Publishers | 2013 | Paperback | 264 pages, 71 plates with 1160 colour illustrations; colour distribution maps |
ISBN: 9781431700851Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands - Oiseaux des îles de l'Océan Indien
By Olivier Langrand, Ian Sinclair, Norman Arlott, Hilary Burn, Peter Hayman, Ian Lewington | Delachaux et Niestle | 2014 | Paperback | 264 pages, 105 plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | Text in French |
ISBN: 9782603020234Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Endemic Birds of Madagascar
By Guy Eldridge | WildSounds | 2008 | All Region DVD | 4 Discs, Runtime 5 hours | A Four DVD Set Featuring 130 Malagasy Endemic Species |
ISBN: 9781898665199Buy this book from NHBS.com
African Bird Club
Madagascar's uniqueness is legendary and this is well reflected in its birds. Of the 280 species known from the island, an incredible 100 plus are entirely endemic to Madagascar and a further 20 or so are shared only with neighbouring South West Indian Ocean islands. Of greatest interest to itinerant birders are five endemic families, the mesites, asities, cuckoo-roller, vangas and the incomparable ground rollers, which make Madagascar an essential destination for anyone attempting to see all of the world's bird families…
Aid in Madagascar’s conservation of biodiversity, tropical forests, and wetland ecosystems by creating protected areas.
The birds show a very high degree of endemism with several bird families endemic to Madagascar and the neighbouring Comoros Islands. Over 100 species out of a total of over 200 breeding species are endemic to Madagascar. There are few terrestrial migrants as Madagascar seems to be off the usual Palearctic / African flyway…
Madagascar Lowland Forests
Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, has been isolated for 150 to 180 million years from other land masses. This prolonged isolation is the major factor that led to extremely high levels of endemism of plant and animal species. Endemism within the island is approximately 80 to 90 percent for all groups, and endemic families and genera are commonplace. It is estimated that 85 percent of the island`s 12,000 species of flowering plants are found nowhere else in the world. This unique biodiversity has led to the recognition of Madagascar…
NP Amber Mountain
It is one of the most biologically diverse places in all of Madagascar with seventy-five species of birds, twenty-five species of mammals, and fifty-nine species of reptiles are known to inhabit the park
Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is a 155 square kilometre protected area, located about 150 km east of Antananarivo, consisting principally of primary growth forest in Alaotra-Mangoro Region in eastern Madagascar. To address the disappearing habitat threat, reserves have been created in the vicinity of Andasibe-Mantadia that balance resource extraction with environmental protection, and attempt to create economic and environmentally preferable alternatives to replacing native forests with eucalyptus and pine.
The park covers 760 km2 (293 sq mi) of the Anosy mountain range, the southernmost spur of the Malagasy Highlands and contains the last humid rainforests in the southern part of Madagascar. The variety of habitats within Andohahela is mirrored in the richness of species that are found there, and the park is the richest place in Madagascar for lemur. Fifteen species have been recorded, including two of Madagascar's most emblematic species, the ring-tailed lemur and Verreaux's sifaka. Some rare species of geckos, turtles and snakes are among the 67 species of reptiles found in the park, 130 species of birds and fifty species of amphibians.
The park is one of the most biologically diverse places in Madagascar, with many endemic species. The eastern flank of the massif is covered with humid forest, and humid grassland and scrub in the higher areas. On the western flank there is relatively dry forest. There are over one thousand species of plants, one hundred species of birds, and fifty-five species of frogs are known to inhabit the park.
The park occupies about 135,000 hectares and consists of patches of thick dry tropical forest interspersed with less dense areas. There are also savannah, scrub and sandy eroded rock areas and some land is farmed by the indigenous Sakalava people. There are a number of lakes and the park is criss-crossed by tracks and paths. There are lodging facilities and guides are available to help visitors appreciate the wildlife and scenery. One hundred and twenty nine species of birds have been recorded in the park, more than half of them endemic to Madagascar. They include the Van Dam's vanga (Xenopirostris damii), the rufous vanga (Schetba rufa), the elusive banded kestrel (Falco zoniventris) and the more easily observed Madagascar fish eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides) which can often be seen at Ravelobe Lake. The endangered Madagascar heron (Ardea humbloti) can be seen at Lake Ravelobe.
NP Baie de Baly
The Baie de Baly National Park is the only known natural habitat of the critically endangered Angonoka tortoise or ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora). There are also thirteen species of mammals, (six primates), 37 reptile species, eight amphibian species and 122 species of birds. There is also the Perrierbambus madagascariensis, an endemic bamboo. The poisonous tree, Erythrophleum couminga (locally named komanga) is also endemic to this region and can be found in and outside the park. It is a very hard wood but cannot be used for cooking as its fumes contain a poison.
A total of 340 faunal species are known to inhabit the area, including 82 species of birds, 33 species of reptiles, 15 species of frogs and 14 species of mammals. The many species of bird found here include Benson's rock thrush (Monticola sharpei bensoni), the knob-billed duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) and the Madagascar ibis (Lophotibis cristata).
NP Kirindy Mitea
In this park are found eleven species of mammals of which ten are endemic. Among them are the Madame Berthe's mouse lemur (Microcebus berthae), the smallest primate in the world, which is only known from this park. Also the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), Madagascar's largest predator, and the lemurs only predator (apart from people). Other mammals endemic to the Menabe region include the giant jumping rat (Hypogeomys antimena) and the narrow-striped mongoose (Mungotictis decemlineata). There are also forty-seven species of birds (thirty-three endemic) and twenty-three species of reptiles
It covers 55,500 ha (214 sq mi) and is centered on the Marojejy Massif, a mountain chain that rises to an elevation of 2,132 m (6,995 ft). Access to the area around the massif was restricted to research scientists when the site was set aside as a strict nature reserve. The wealth of species of well-known groups of animals demonstrates the depth of the biodiversity found at Marojejy National Park. For example, 75 of the 118 species of birds (64%) found in or around Marojejy are forest-dwelling birds, a total that surpasses any other mountain site in Madagascar. All of these forest-dependent bird species are endemic to Madagascar and utilize the forest for some portion of their life-cycle. One of these birds is the Madagascar serpent-eagle (Eutriorchis astur).
The Masoala peninsula is exceptionally diverse due to its huge size, and variety of habitats. Altogether, the park protects tropical rainforest, coastal forest, flooded forest, marsh, and mangrove. Three marine parks protect coral reefs and a dazzling array of marine life.
NP Midongy du sud
The 192,000 hectares (470,000 acres) park has the second largest rainforest on the island and is rich in endemic animals and plants, especially medicial plants.
Ranomafana National Park is located in the Fianarantsoa Province of southeastern Madagascar, it is about 2 hours drive from the city of Fianarantsoa and about 10 hours drive from Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar…
Sahamalaza National Park is in the northwestern part of Madagascar in Sofia region, with 26035 hectares.
The lake is part of a Ramsar site with a total area of 456,000 hectares (1,130,000 acres), although the surface of the lake is much smaller. The park takes its name from the brackish, soda-saturated lake. Due to the high salinity, there are no fish, but more than one hundred bird species are found within the park (of which thirty-five are endemic to Madagascar, including the Madagascan plover), including waders, ducks and flamingos.
NP Zahamena Strict Reserve
This Strict Nature Reserve was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2007 as part of the Rainforests of the Atsinanana. The park is habitat for 112 bird species, 46 reptile species, 62 species of amphibians and 48 species of mammals, including 13 species of lemurs.
Ninety species of birds are known from the park, including thirty-eight endemic species. The park meets the Birdlife International criteria as an Important Bird Area. One species Appert's tetraka (also known as Appert's greenbul (Xanthomixis apperti) is classified with a conservation status of vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Ambatovaky Reserve is a tropical rainforest and wildlife reserve in the north-east of Madagascar (65,000 hectares (160,000 acres)). It is designated by Bird Life International as an Important Bird Area for the large number of endemic species of birds.
Analamazaotra Special Reserve is a wildlife reserve toward the northeast portion of the island, and is nearly centered between the coast.
NR Berenty Reserve
The Berenty Reserve was created half a century ago by the d'Heaulme family as a private park; in the last twenty years it has been turned into a nature reserve cum hotel. It is the easiest way to see Lemur catta and Propithecus verreauxi in the wild. Bordering the Mandrare river it is a small patch (100 hectares) of gallery and riverine forest in the middle of what used to be spiny forest and is now mostly sisal fields. The reserve is home to 5 species of lemur, a flying fox (a large fruit bat) and 96 bird species.
NR Betampona Strict Reserve
It is located 40 km northwest of Toamasina and was established in 1927. The area of the reserve is 29.2 km².
NR Lokobe Strict Reserve
It is known for its black lemurs and the beautiful Nosy Be panther chameleon.
NR Tsaratanana Strict Reserve
The reserve provides a significant amount of water to the area, and many rivers exist in the area, such as Bemarivo river, Sambirano river and the Ramena or Mahavavy River.
Guides & Tour Operators
Madagascar’s legendary uniqueness is reflected in its mammals, with every one of its 150 native terrestrial species being found nowhere else on the planet! Best known as the home of the lemurs, with an amazing 100 species divided over five endemic families, the island also boasts a host of colorful chameleons, fascinating flora and bizarre insectivores. Madagascar’s endemic birds are equally world renowned, with no fewer than 140 species and 5 complete families entirely restricted to this appropriately named “laboratory of evolution.”
Birding Madagascar, our world’s fourth-largest island is, quite simply, unique. Five bird families and five mammal families (including the lemurs) are endemic to this massive island, and half the world’s chameleons, weird and wonderful endemic plant families, and tons of other wildlife can be found here. An astonishing 120 bird species are endemic...
Others have said of him: Fano is an amazing local resource and has many years of tour guiding experience. He was the ground agent for many of Rockjumpers tours to Madagascar (which is how we met him), and has proved able to deal with whatever situations arise. He speaks Malagasy, French, English and German, and is a perfect gentleman. He has organized private tours, including a torturous (but successful) expedition to see the legendary Red Owl…
Although greatly changed by man since 1771, Madagascar remains a truly wonderful country with unique wildlife, bizarre plants, superb climate, and the nicest people you will find anywhere. Even the cities and towns are fascinating, thanks to some inspired architecture and the Malagasy love for flowers, music, and warm colors…
Rockjumper Birding Tours
We at Rockjumper are rightly considered the “Malagasy experts”, having run more tours to the island than all other birding companies combined! We offer a wide array of tours to the island, ranging from 12 days for our budget Essential tour, to our 22 day Comprehensive tour.
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2008 [10 October] - Josh Engel
…Not only did we see all of the endemic families of bird, we had incredible views of all four asities, four of the five ground rollers (hearing the fifth), all three mesites, and--including the Masoala extension--every single vanga…
2008 [11 November] - Pete Morris - The Comoros & N Madagascar
…So what were the highlights? No doubt rarities on Madagascar that will stick in the mind include the amazing Sakalava Rail, the seldom-seen Amber Mountain Rock Thrush, the recently re-discovered Madagascar Pochard and the rarely seen Madagascar Red Owl….
2011 [10 October] - Ralf Jahraus
This report is based on a 5 weeks trip to Madagascar on which I was accompanied by my wife Erma. We generally found that there are a lot of good reports about Madagascar already available and that there is no real need to add one more. But as often in the past we were unable to find a report from individual birders using public transport and arranging the whole trip from within the country itself like we do. Therefore we thought it might be useful to share our experiences…
2011 [11 November] - Gary & Marlene Babic
We went on a 24-day trip to Madagascar with Field Guides, which included a side trip to Masaola National Park. Madagascar is a location that should be visited sooner than later due to rapid development. Because of challenging infrastructure and the need to go to several special places to see specific species, individual travel is impractical (it may not even be allowed). This report provides an idea of what can be seen in different locations as a guide to choosing what tour is best for you…
2012 [09 September] - John Clark
The Trip was excellent and we ended up seeing 122 of the endemic (and endemic breeding) birds of Madagascar, Plus 54 non-endemics. Fano was not only an excellent bird-guide himself, but he had lined up local guides in most of the locations - most of whom were terrific…
2012 [11 November] - Hans Matheve
Very detailed report with site details, species seen etc…
2013 [01 January] - Johannes Fischer - Bemanevika Lakes
…For the third target we headed to the third crater, which is not a lake but a swamp and it is definitely one of the best in entire Madagascar. Here we saw Malagasy Harrier, Madagascar Snipe and Grey Emutail, but unfortunately not our main target: Slender-billed Flufftail. Luckily we had another day. During the night we dried our equipment near the campfire while we listened to the Rainforest Scops Owls and Madagscar Long-eared Owls. The latter didn't want to show themselves unfortunately…
2013 [08 August] - Dick Meijer & Peter van Scheepen
…We found almost all endemic and near-endemic birds possible within our itinerary during the Madagascar winter. Madagascar Pond-Heron (all pond-herons we saw were Squacco Herons), Madagascar Pratincole (summer visitor), Cryptic Warbler (song not heard), Benson’s Rock-Thrush (bad luck), Madagascar Jacana (all eligible habitat checked), Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk (simply missed) and Banded Kestrel (simply missed) were birds not seen by us….
2013 [10 October] - Birding Africa
Our comprehensive 2013 Madagascar tour once again showcased Madagascar's best birds and wildlife. We found almost all available bird endemics, more than 20 lemur species and lots of other great critters...
2013 [11 November] - Charley Hesse
…On the way we saw many common species like Cattle Egret, Yellow- billed Kite, African Palm-Swift, Pied Crow and even a few glimpses of the endemic Madagascar Lark. The highlight of the drive though were brief views of an Eleonora's Falcon, a species which are rarely seen this early….
2013 [11 November] - Dion Hobcroft
…We made an excursion to the Parc Zoologique the next morning where we caught up with more endemic birds. This included great looks at Madagascar Bulbul, Madagascar Turtle-Dove (appropriately in the Aldabra Tortoise exhibit), the stunning Madagascan (Malachite) Kingfisher, a brief Madagascan Hoopoe, and the Green Sunbird. Hundreds of nesting egrets here included mostly Western Cattle and Dimorphic egrets, with a healthy scattering of Squacco Herons and Black-crowned Night-Herons….
2013 [12 December] - Phil Gregory & Jay Vandergaast - Madagascar, Mauritius & Reunion
…For the third time in recent years we offered an extension to the Masoala Peninsula in quest of some of the most charismatic Madagascar species….
2014 [06 June] - Neil Macleod
Birds seen along the route included: Malagasy Kingfisher, Glossy Ibis, Hamerkop, Madagascar Kestrel, Pied Crow, Common Myna, Madagascar Mannikin, Green Sunbird, Madagascar Buzzard, Madagascar Red Fody, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Dimorphic Egret....
2014 [09 September] - Bruce Wedderburn
...On arrival at the various national parks, we were introduced to local guides who were well trained and very knowledgeable about the local birds, mammals, chameleons etc. Some of the birding was quite hard work, particularly working the slopes of the tropical rain forests. Did a lot of sweating and bundu bashing trying to get the Brown Mesite at Ranomafana National Park, which we could hear but never managed to see...
2014 [10 October] - Dani Lopez-Velasco
This was our third tour to explore some of the more remote areas of Northern Madagascar and the Comoro Islands, and although logistics (the number of broken vehicles during the tour was probably a Birdquest record!), including a major Air France strike, didn’t work as smoothly as we would have hoped, we put up with all hardships, in part thanks to an excellent and understanding group. And the result was a hugely successful tour, basically enjoying excellent views of every single Comoro endemic species and future split candidates, as well as almost all key northern Madagascar targets...
2014 [11 November] - Chris Kehoe
This year’s Ultimate Madagascar tour once again served up a mouthwatering collection of Malagasy specialities including all of the Ground Rollers, Asitys and Mesites plus the spectacular Madagascar Cuckoo Roller and, for those who undertook the extension to the Masoala Peninsular where we found Helmet and Bernier's Vangas, all of the Madagascar Vangas too. All in all it was a hugely successful tour with good views of both Emutails, all of the stunning Couas, Malagasy Harrier at three sites, the rare Madagascar Sparrowhawk at two sites plus brief views of the very rarely seen Madagascar Serpent Eagle...
2014 [11 November] - Dion Hobcroft
With everything going to plan, our group met for dinner in the delightful Hotel Palissandre. After a good night of rest we kicked-off our birding with a visit to Lac Alarobia, a wetland on a private estate on the outskirts of the capital city, Antananarivo. Amongst the hundreds of Red-billed Teal and White-faced Whistling-Ducks we found a small number of Comb Ducks, Hottentot Teal and, best of all, five of the rare Meller’s Duck....
2014 [11 November] - Justin Nicolau
This remote Madagascar and Comoros tour allows for the rare opportunity for any serious lister to connect with some of the most range-restricted species on the planet...
2014 [11 November] - Ken Behrens
...There was a strong cast of vangas, including Helmet, Bernier’s, and Sickle-billed. In fact, we saw every member of the family save the mysterious Red-tailed Newtonia which is only regularly seen in the far south. As normal, the couas were also a favorite. From the shy and beautiful Red-breasted of the eastern rainforest to the huge Giant Coua of the dry western forest, we were looking for and at couas virtually every day...
2014 [12 December] - Phil Gregory - Madagascar, Mauritius & Reunion
This was my fifth run-through for Field Guides of this comprehensive tour of Madagascar, which Field Guides has been running since 1986, this year in a reconfigured smaller group context that worked very nicely. We again had a great tour of this fascinating country, albeit with lots of traveling on slow roads and the worse than usual vagaries of Air Madagascar, which made significant late changes to 5 out of 6 flights, costing us an afternoon at Ifaty and our morning boat trip from Mahajunga as a result...
2015 [06 June] - David McLachlan-Karr - Antananarivo and Ankarafantsika NP
A conference in the Madagascar capital, Antananarivo (Tana), gave opportunity for some brief weekend birding in the capital district and then a short weekend break to Ankarafantsika National Park, near the village of Ampijoroa, some 450 kms north-west of Tana. As it was off-season for birding (the optimum time for breeding birds is September – December), I was persuaded to try drier country of the west, rather than risk wet weather in the much closer and more popular Andasibe (Périnet) Special Reserve.
2015 [08 August] - Chris Kehoe
... We had no trouble finding representatives of each endemic Malagasy bird family, seeing Madagascan Cuckoo-Roller, two species of Mesite, three species of Ground Roller, numerous examples of Malagasy Warblers and Vangas and three species of Asity, of which the sensational Schlegel's Asity was voted bird of the trip.
2015 [09 September] - Justin Nicolau - Berenty Reserve
Arriving in Antananarivo mid afternoon, the group set out after the meets and greets and currency exchange toward our hotel for the next two nights.
2015 [10 October] - Justin Nicolau
...Evolving in isolation since its breakaway from Africa, the island of Madagascar has formed a unique suite of fauna and flora, many of which are found nowhere else on earth....
2015 [12 December] - Phil Gregory
Dec 11 saw us drive north to Antsiranana/Diego Suarez, on quite good roads but still basically taking all day, we got to the very nice Nature Lodge at Joffreville near Amber Mt by late pm. Next day Dec 12 the rain curse struck again, but not before we had great looks at Amber Mt Rock Thrush by the camping ground, where a pair had a nest with 3 big juveniles in a cleft in a tree right by the car park. There is just no way this is Forest Rock Thrush, I don’t care what the genetics supposedly say, it is just so different.
2015 [12 December] - Stephen Blaber
... In the event, these factors were not significant and we were very successful, seeing 120 new species, only missing out on about 5 species which occur chiefly in areas we did not visit. We saw all the Ground Rollers, Asities, Mesites and Vangas, as well as most of the other endemics...
2016 [08 August] - Chris Kehoe
...This wide variety of habitats led to a diverse list of highlights that included such fantastic species as Long-tailed Ground Roller (voted bird of the trip by a substantial margin), superb White-breasted and Sub-desert Mesites, a host of Vangas that ranged from the furtive Crossley's to the extrovert Sickle-billed via the rare and extremely localised Red-shouldered, all nine of the possible, and spectacular, Couas, Madagascan and White-browed Owls at day roosts, the critically endangered Madagascan Fish Eagle, sky dancing Madagascan Harriers plus the exquisite Collared Nightjar. Members of all the endemic Malagasy bird families were found along with a fine selection of lemurs including the amazing Indri that serenaded us at ear splitting volume. With the exception of one rainy afternoon at Tulear the weather was fine throughout, if a little chilly at times....
2016 [10 October] - Adam Walleyn
...The reeds and scrub surrounding the lake produced excellent views of the rather similar Malagasy Brush Warbler and Malagasy Swamp Warblers, really nice side by side comparisons! We then taped out an extremely cooperative White-throated Rail that we enjoyed at leisure. We also added our first of Malagasy Kingfisher, Malagasy Coucal, Common Jery, Malagasy White-eye and Souimanga Sunbird...
2016 [11 November] - Adam Walleyn
Our group gathered in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar. We headed out for our first birding excursion to Lac Alarobia, a small wetland and RAMSAR site located within the heart of this densely populated city. We were greeted by large numbers of Red-billed Teal and White-faced Whistling Duck; while the heronry on the island in the middle of the lake was teeming with Dimorphic Egrets and Squacco Herons...
2016 [11 November] - Justin Nicolau - Berenty Reserve
...Coming together at breakfast as a group for the first time, meets and greets took place. The car was packed, and we were on the road in no time, Sunday traffic being no issue in the capital city - a true blessing if ever there was one...
2016 [11 November] - Peg Abbott
...The birding was great in the gardens; we got first looks at Malagasy Brush Warbler, Madagascar Magpie-Robin, scores of Red Fody, Common Jery, Madagascar Wagtail, Madagascar Bulbul, Pied Crow, and towards dusk some Black-crowned Night Heron going to their roost.
2016 [11 November] - Phil Gregory - Madagascar, Mauritius & Reunion
...The following day, we had a mission to see all of the special species. We began very well with a newly discovered nest of Schlegel's Asity, soon followed by White-breasted Mesite and eventually (after breakfast) a splendid Van Dam's Vanga -- a rare species that is easily missed. Coquerel's and Red-capped couas showed well. Western Woolly Lemur was a good find, as was Mongoose Lemur, whilst a nesting pair of Banded Kestrels was a major surprise and my first sighting in the park....
2016 [12 December] - Bram Vogels
...Olive bee‐eater, Madagascan lark, Sakalava weaver, Madagscan magpie‐robin, Subdesert brush warbler, Madagscan cuckoo, Malagasy turtle dove, Crested drongo, Souimanga sunbird and Malagasy coucal, besides Pied crow, Namaqua dove, Common myna, Yellow‐billed kite. But we also had nice views of Verreaux’s coua, Red‐shoulderd vanga and Lafresnaye’s vanga. In the distance a Running coua was crossing the road several times, but this was not a perfect view....
2016 [12 December] - Michael Mills
...The most enjoyed birds of the trip were Rufous-headed Vanga and Crossley’s Vanga in tie ninth, Pitta-like Ground Roller and Giant Coua in tie seventh, Short-legged Ground Roller in sixth, Scaly Ground Roller in fifth, White-breasted Mesite in fourth, Long-tailed Ground Roller in third, and Velvet Asity in second, and the peerless Helmet Vanga took our top honours! We also recorded 25 lemur species and lots of other great critters....
2016 [12 December] - Rob Gordijn & Helen Rijkes
...A three-week independent trip to Madagascar, a popular birding destination because of the many endemic species, including 5 endemic families making the island unique. We made the standard 3-week roundtrip with a similar itinerary as most tour groups (but in a somewhat different order): Isalo, Zombitse, Ilfaty, Tulear/Anakao, Ranomafana, Andasibe, Ankafaransika and the Betsiboka delta. Additionally, we visited Anjazorobe forest, which offers similar birding as Ranomafana/Andasibe. At Andasibe we spend an extra day at Iaroka forest, a nearby reserve where since recently Helmeted and Berniers Vanga can be found (making a visit to Masoala no longer necessary)....
2017 [10 October] - Cathy Harlow
Accompanied by Lemur Park guide Princia, we explored the network of paths zig-zagging along the banks of the river bounding the reserve. In between lemur sightings we got views of Madagascan Wagtail, Olive (Madagascan) Bee-eater, Malagasy Green Sunbird, Souimanga Sunbird, Common Jery, Madagascan Magpie-Robin, African Palm Swift and Malagasy White-eye. We peered up at a huge Hamerkop’s nest in a Eucalyptus tree and some of the group got a glimpse of the bird in flight. Several lethargic Oustalet’s Chameleons were spotted on the bare branches of low-growing shrubs adjacent to the path and in a flurry of excitement a semi-aquatic Madagascar Lined Snake crossed the path ahead of us.
2017 [10 October] - Craig Robson
This year’s tour delivered an impressive selection of Malagasy specialities. Iconic species like the ground rollers, asities, and mesites were all seen well, and other highlights included feeding Bernier’s Teal, several Humblot’s Herons, Madagascan Grebe, Madagascan Cuckoo-Hawk and Madagascan Sparrowhawk at their nests, Madagascan Fish Eagle, nest-building Madagascan Wood Rails, Madagascan Plover, Madagascan Snipe, Madagascan Sandgrouse, 10-11 species of coua, roosting Madagascan Owl and Collared Nightjar, Cuckoo Roller, Madagascan Pygmy Kingfisher, 20 species of vanga, including Crossley’s and the much-wanted Helmet, Red-tailed Newtonia, both Brown and Grey Emutails, White-throated Oxylabes on the nest, Wedge-tailed Jery, Appert’s Tetraka, and Madagascan Yellowbrow.
2017 [10 October] - Gareth Robbins
...Finally, we arrived at our quaint lodge located just outside the Perinet Special Reserve. Whilst lavishing in lunch, we listened to the distant calls of the Indri and also saw Crested Drongo and Malagasy Bulbuls. We then met the famous Luc, who was to be our local guide for the next few days...
2017 [10 October] - Jason Boyce
The small lake was full of waterfowl, and our first few species included Red-billed Teal, Knob-billed and the endemic Meller’s Duck, and Squacco and Black Herons, as well as Western Cattle and Dimorphic Egrets. Malagasy Pond Heron was a highlight, three birds in cracking breeding plumage displaying on the reed bed in the middle of the lake. Madagascan Swamp Warbler was heard and then seen in the reeds. Malagasy Bulbul was seen moving around the trees alongside the lake, and Malagasy White-eye was also present. Malagasy Kingfisher came and landed close by on a dead tree alongside us, and a small group of Hottentot Teals was spotted along the back side of the lake. White-throated Rail was heard calling, but we were unable to get any visuals of this skulker. A relaxing start with some of the more common species kicked things off nicely today.
2017 [11 November] - Dion Hobcroft
...Flocks of Red Fody come in to bathe, Madagascar Brush-Warblers skulk about, while noisy chattering Madagascan Bulbuls dominate the birdsong. More careful examination will reveal Madagascar Coucal building a nest, Madagascar Hoopoes probing the lawns, Madagascar Magpie-Robin feeding fledglings, Souimanga Sunbirds taking pollen from Hibiscus flowers, and perhaps the occasional Madagascar Munia. On dusk it is easy to watch Madagascar Nightjars—this year feeding a tiny chick while the Barn Owl punctuated the night with its occasional screech...
2017 [11 November] - Guillaume Péron
... Tsingy Wood-rail, Schlegel’s Asity (common), Sickle-billed Vanga, White-browed Owl (not seen or heard by me but did not go near the forest at night)...
2017 [11 November] - Jeff Skevington
...Ankarafantsika. Highlights: Humblot’s Heron, White-breasted Mesite, Madagascar Buttonquail, Gray-headed Lovebird, Redcapped Coua, Coquerel’s Coua, Madagascar Hoopoe, Van Dam’s Vanga, Sickle-billed Vanga, Rufous Vanga, Golden-brown Mouse Lemur...
2017 [11 November] - Ken Behrens
...There was a strong cast of vangas, including the range-restricted Red-shouldered, anpitta-like Crossley’s, huge Sickle-billed, all all three of the scarce Xenopirostris vangas: Pollen’s, Lafresnaye’s, and Van Dam’s. As normal, the couas were also favorites. From the shy and beautiful Red-breasted of the eastern rainforest to the huge Giant Coua of the dry western forest, to the elusive Verreaux’s Coua of the southwest, we were looking for and at couas virtually every day...
2017 [11 November] - Peter Friedmann
...We then move on into a fairly muddy area where Joseph detects Madagascar wood rails. Again, these are initially shy but after a while they relax permitting reasonable but brief views. We then get lots of Paradise flycatchers, crested drongos, followed by a difficult souimanga sunbird, nelicourvi weaver and red-tailed vanga. The last interesting bird is a Madagascar cuckoo shrike...
2017 [11 November] - Phil Gregory & Doug Gochfeld
...we scored our only Madagascar Snipes of the tour along with a swirling mass of Plain (Brown-throated) Martins, and then on day two at the Reserve Villageoise D’Ankazomivady, where the highlight among introductions to several Madagascar endemic species was a scarce Baillon’s Crake!
2017 [11 November] - Yeray Seminario
This was Whitehawk's first tour to Madagascar, a country with plenty of endemic wildlife and unique scenery, as well as some challenging logistics for those seeking some of the country’s most desirable target birds.
2017 [12 December] - Carlos Sanchez
Isolated for nearly 80 million years, Madagascar boasts one of the most unique animals on Earth: lemurs, tenrecs, ground-rollers, mesites, asities and more are all endemic families to the island. Over the course of this tour, we sampled the southern two-thirds of the island from the otherworldly spiny forest at Ifaty to the lush montane forests of Ranomafana for lemurs, chameleons and endemic birds (we saw 80 endemic birds).
2017 [12 December] - Graham Talbot
Often called the eighth continent, Madagascar is high on every birders list of places to go for its unique avifauna, mammals and reptiles. We had been trying to get a trip together for a number of years but it was not until this year that everybody managed to get time off work during the best time to go i.e. November. The original party of four became three a couple of months before we set off when Mike had to pull out.
2017 [12 December] - Jason Boyce
2017 [12 December] - Michael Mills
Our comprehensive 2017 Madagascar Tour once again showcased Madagascar’s best birds and wildlife in just 15 days, with an optional week spent at Masoala at the start. During this time we enjoyed good views of almost all available endemic birds. Among the 189 species logged were all five species of ground roller, all three mesites, all species of vanga and all ten couas.
Places to Stay
Chez Maggie Hotel - Morondava
The Chez Maggie Hotel is a wonderful hide-away located directly on the beach facing the setting sun…
Birding in Madagascar
Madagascar's uniqueness is legendary and this is well reflected in its birds. Of the 280 species known from the island, an incredible 100 plus are entirely endemic to Madagascar and a further 20 or so are shared only with neighbouring South West Indian Ocean islands…
Photographers & Artists
Photographs of Birds, Mammals and Nature from Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar and Thailand by Simon Bennett. To find a species of interest enter its name in Search e.g. black duck or just duck; or you can browse the Species Group galleries.