Bernieridae – Malagasy Warblers

Appert's Tetraka¬† Xanthomixis apperti ©James Wakelin Website

The Malagasy warblers are a newly validated clade of passerines. 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.

The monophyly of this group has been proposed as early as 1934 (Salomonsen 1934). But the traditional assignments of these birds were maintained, mistaken by their convergent evolution and the lack of dedicated research. The families to which the Malagasy warblers were formerly assigned – Pycnonotidae (bulbuls) but especially Timaliidae (Old World babblers) and the Old World warbler – were used as ‘wastebin taxa’, uniting unrelated lineages that were somewhat similar ecologically and morphologically.

Several of these species are very poorly known and were described by science only very recently. Appert’s Tetraka was only described in 1972 and the Cryptic Warbler in 1996. The Appert’s tetraka, along with the dusky tetraka are threatened by habitat loss, and are listed as vulnerable.

Most Malagasy warblers live in the humid rainforests in the east of Madagascar, though a few species are found in the drier south west of the island. They feed on insects and will form mixed-species feeding flocks of up to six species while foraging.

The Malagasy Warblers or Bernieridae, is a small family recently split from the old super family of Old World Warblers. Currently, [as at January 2017] 11 species are included as below:

White-throated Oxylabes Oxylabes madagascariensis

Long-billed Bernieria Bernieria madagascariensis

Cryptic Warbler Cryptosylvicola randriansoloi

Wedge-tailed Jery Hartertula flavoviridis

Thamnornis Thamnornis chloropetoides

Spectacled Tetraka Xanthomixis zosterops
Appert’s Tetraka Xanthomixis apperti
Dusky Tetraka Xanthomixis tenebrosa
Grey-crowned Tetraka Xanthomixis cinereiceps

Madagascar Yellowbrow Crossleyia xanthophrys

Rand’s Warbler Randia pseudozosterops

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 11

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