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  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Verreaux's Sifaka

    Verreaux's Sifaka in full flow, 'hopping' sideways, across the ground, between trees, by Coke & Som Smith.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in
  • MADAGASCAR

    Photograph of Madagascar Flufftail

    Madagascar Flufftail in Andasibe-Mantadia NP by Dubi Shapiro.

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Madagascar

    Birds

    Endemics 117
    (Three mesites, 11 couas, five ground-rollers, four asities and 17 vangas)
    Madagascar Partridge, Madagascar Pochard (tiny range), Meller’s Duck, Madagascar (Bernier’s) Teal, Madagascar Grebe, White-breasted Mesite, Brown Mesite, Subdesert Mesite, Madagascar Green-pigeon, Madagascar Sandgrouse, Collared Nightjar, Giant Coua, Coquerel’s Coua, Red-breasted Coua, Red-fronted Coua, Running Coua, Red-capped Coua, Olive-capped (Red-capped) Coua, Crested Coua, Chestnut-vented (Crested) Coua, Verreaux’s Coua, Blue Coua, Madagascar Flufftail, Slender-billed Flufftail, Madagascar Wood-rail, Tsingy Wood-rail (small range), Madagascar Rail, Sakalava Rail, Madagascar Crested Ibis, Black-banded Plover, Madagascar Three-banded Plover, Madagascar Jacana, Madagascar Snipe, Madagascar Buttonquail (introduced to several nearby islands), Madagascar Red Owl, White-browed Owl, Torotoroka (Malagasy) Scops-owl, Rainforest (Malagasy) Scops-owl, Madagascar Long-eared Owl, Madagascar Cuckoo-hawk, Madagascar Serpent-eagle, Madagascar Harrier-hawk, Madagascar Sparrowhawk, Henst’s Goshawk, Madagascar Fish-eagle, Madagascar Buzzard, Madagascar Hoopoe, Short-legged Ground-roller, Scaly Ground-roller, Long-tailed Ground-roller, Pitta-like Ground-roller, Rufous-headed Ground-roller, Madagascar Pygmy-kingfisher, Banded Kestrel, Black (Lesser Vasa) Parrot, Grey-headed Lovebird, Velvet Asity, Schlegel’s Asity, Common Sunbird-asity, Yellow-bellied Sunbird-asity, Madagascar Cuckooshrike, Archbold’s Newtonia, Common Newtonia, Red-tailed Newtonia, Dark Newtonia, Tylas Vanga, Red-tailed Vanga, Red-shouldered Vanga, Nuthatch Vanga, Chabert Vanga, Madagascar Blue Vanga, Crossley’s Vanga, Ward’s Flycatcher, Hook-billed Vanga, Rufous Vanga, Helmet Vanga, Pollen’s Vanga, Lafresnaye’s Vanga, Van Dam’s Vanga, Bernier’s Vanga, Sickle-billed Vanga, White-headed Vanga, Madagascar Lark, Green Jery, Common Jery, Stripe-throated Jery, Subdesert (Stripe-throated) Jery, Subdesert Bush-warbler, Madagascar Swamp-warbler, Brown Emu-tail, Madagascar Grassbird (Grey Emutail), White-throated Oxylabes, Long-billed Tetraka, Wedge-tailed Tetraka (Jery), Thamnornis, Spectacled Tetraka, Appert’s Tetraka, Grey-crowned Tetraka, Dusky Tetraka, Madagascar Yellowbrow (Yellow-browed Oxylabes), Cryptic Warbler, Rand’s Warbler, Madagascar Plain Martin, Madagascar Starling, Pelzeln’s Magpie-robin, Madagascar Magpie-robin, Littoral Rock-thrush, Amber Mountain (Forest) Rock-thrush (far north), Forest Rock-thrush, Madagascar Stonechat, Long-billed (Madagascar) Sunbird, Red Fody, Forest Fody, Nelicourvi Weaver, Sakalava Weaver, Madagascar Munia and Madagascar Wagtail.

    (Madagascar Pond-heron, Madagascar Pratincole and Mascarene Martin all range to east Africa during their non-breeding seasons)

    Near-endemics

    Madagascar and Comoros 12
    Madagascar Spinetail (Grand Comoro), Madagascar Palm-swift, Madagascar Swift, Madagascar (Humblot’s) Heron, Madagascar (Marsh) Harrier, Frances’s Sparrowhawk, Cuckoo Roller, Madagascar Kingfisher, Madagascar Kestrel, Crested Drongo, Madagascar Paradise-flycatcher and Madagascar Brush-warbler.

    Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles 2
    Madagascar Turtle-dove and Madagascar Bulbul.

    Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mayotte 1
    Madagascar White-eye.

    Madagascar and Aldabra 2
    White-throated Rail and Madagascar Sacred Ibis.

    Madagascar and Seychelles 2
    Souimanga Sunbird and Madagascar Cisticola.

    Other specialities
    Crab Plover, and Eleonora's and Sooty Falcons (both mostly Nov-Apr).

    Others
    African Pygmy Goose, Lesser and Greater Flamingos, Red-tailed Tropicbird, Black Heron, Hamerkop, African Darter and Madagascar Bee-eater. Also a chance of Greater Painted-snipe.

    Mammals
    Over 100 lemur species (some taxonomists believe it may be around 50) including Indri, sifakas, Ring-tailed Lemur, woolly lemurs, and tiny mouse lemurs such as Pygmy Mouse Lemur, the smallest lemur and smallest primate in the world with a body 62 mm (2.4 inches) long and a tail 136 mm (5.3 inches) long, as well as tenrecs, Humpback Whale (mostly Jul-Sep), Madagascar Flying Fox, Narrow-striped Mongoose and Giant Jumping Rat. Also a chance of Fosa and Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin, and an outside chance of Aye-aye.

    Photograph of Ring-tailed Lemur

    A superb image of a superb Ring-tailed Lemur at Berenty by Dubi Shapiro.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Chameleons (over 80 species, over half of the world total, including Pygmy Stump-tailed which is just 2 cm (0.8 in) long) and leaf-tailed geckos. Also a chance of Nile Crocodile.

    Invertebrates
    Giraffe-necked Weevil. Moths include the fabulous Moon Moth, some males of which may have wingspans measuring 20 cm (8 in) and tails as long as 15 cm (6 in).

    Plants
    Six plant families are endemic.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Madagascar

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Madagascar

    The best time to visit Madagascar is between September and December when most lemurs have young, and many of the endemic birds are at their most active and attractive, during their breeding seasons. October-November is the peak time for birds and October is usually the peak time to look for the rare and otherwise elusive Fosa because females in oestrous usually climb their favourite trees at this time, year after year, in order to attract mates. The weather at this time is usually dry and sunny, although there may be some rain. It is normally mild with average temperatures ranging from a cool 10°C early in the mornings to highs in the afternoon of 25-32°C in the eastern rainforests. It is drier and hotter in the west where it is best to be in the field early mornings and late afternoons.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Madagascar

    Wildlife of Madagascar by K Behrens and K Barnes. PUP, 2016.

    Bradt Travel Guide: Madagascar Wildlife by N Garbutt and D Austin. Bradt, 2014 (Fourth Edition).

    Mammals of Madagascar: A Complete Guide by N Garbutt. A & C Black, 2007.

    Lemurs of Madagascar by R A Mittermeier et al. Conservation International, 2010 (Third Edition).

    Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands by F Hawkins et al. Helm, 2015.

    Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands by I Sinclair and O Langrand. Struik, 2013 (Revised Edition).

    The Birds of Africa Volume 8: The Malagasy Region by R Safford and F Hawkins. Helm, 2013.

    Birds of Madagascar: A Photographic Guide by P Morris and F Hawkins. Helm, 1998.

    A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar by F Glaw and M Vences. Frosch Verlag, 2007 (Third Edition).

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Madagascar

    Many trip reports, some for Madagascar, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Madagascar. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Madagascar' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Madagascar

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation for birders in Madagascar

    Some Organized Tours for birds, lemurs and other wildlife to Madagascar

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Madagascar include the following.