Endemic birds of Madagascar and western Indian Ocean islands

This article is one of a series providing information about endemism among birds in the world's various zoogeographic zones. For an overview of this subject see Endemism in birds.

Patterns of endemism

This region is notable not just for the high number of endemic species, but for endemism in higher-level taxonomic groupings too.

Order-level endemism

Two orders are endemic to Madagascar or the wider region:

  • Mesites are placed within the Mesitornithiformes, an order containing three species in two genera.
  • The cuckoo-roller is placed in the monotypic order Leptosomiformes. It is endemic to the wider region, as its single species is present on both Madagascar and Comores.

Family-level endemism

The following three families are endemic to Madagascar:

One other family is endemic to the wider region:

  • The vangas, an oscine passerine family, containing sixteen species in eleven genera are endemic to the region. All but one species are confined to Madagascar, the sole exception being the Comoro blue vanga, restricted to Comores.

Subfamily-level endemism

Genus-level endemism

In addition to genera in the families above, the following genera are endemic to the region (M indicating a genus endemic to Madagascar):

  • the jeries Neomixis (three species) and Hartertula (one species) M

In addition in the following genera, high proportions of the member species are endemic to Madagascar:

  • the rock-thrushes, Monticola, in which three of the 13 species are endemic to Madagascar (these three are sometimes separated into their own genus, Pseudocossyphus).

Endemic Bird Areas

BirdLife International has defined a number of Endemic Bird Areas and Secondary Areas in Madagascar and the western Indian Ocean islands.

List of species

Species endemic to Madagascar

The following is a list of species endemic to Madagascar.



Note that:

  • Madagascar partridge is endemic as a native species to Madagascar, but has been introduced on the Mascarenes
  • Madagascar buttonquail is endemic as a native species to Madagascar, but has been introduced on the Mascarenes
  • Madagascar turtle dove is endemic as a native species to Madagascar, but is thought to be an introduced species on the other islands in the region
  • Grey-headed lovebird is endemic as a native species to Madagascar, but has been introduced to the Comoro Islands
  • Madagascar fody is endemic as a native species to Madagascar, but has been introduced to many of the other islands in the region
  • The Elephant bird is now extinct.

Species endemic to other islands or island groups in the region

The following is a list of species endemic to other islands.

Species endemic to the Mascarene group

Species endemic to the Comoros

Species endemic to central Seychelles

Species endemic to the Aldabra islands

There are native Madagascar turtle doves in the Aldabra group (separate races from those found on Madagascar); they may represent a separate species.

Other species endemic to the region

The following is a list of species which are not endemic to a specific island (or island group) but are endemic to the region as a whole.


The following is a list of species endemic to the region as breeding species:

Two Western Palearctic falcons winter entirely (Eleonora's falcon) or mainly (sooty falcon) on Madagascar.

The following restricted-range species are also found in the region:

The following seabirds are restricted to the region as breeders:


  • Sinclair, Ian and Olivier Langrand (2003) Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands
Alaotra grebe

The Alaotra grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus), also known as Delacour's little grebe or rusty grebe, is an extinct grebe that was endemic to Lake Alaotra and surrounding lakes in Madagascar.

Giant coua

The giant coua (Coua gigas) is a bird species from the coua genus in the cuckoo family that is endemic to the dry forests of western and southern Madagascar. It is suggested that couas probably originated from a particular Asian ground-cuckoo (Dinets 2007). Genus coua contains 10 species, more than any other genus in Madagascar (Moreau 1966). Although the bird is listed under least concern (LC) in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, it only persists in the biological hot spot of Madagascar, warranting its recognition as a species of conservation concern at the global scale.

List of birds of Madagascar

Madagascar is an island nation located off the southeastern coast of Africa. Because of its long separation from neighboring continents—through tectonic movement, it split from Africa about 160 million years ago, and from India around 90 million years ago—it contains many species endemic to the island. Of the 287 bird species recorded on Madagascar, 105 are found nowhere else on earth, and a handful of others are shared only with the neighbouring Comoro Islands; one has been declared extinct.This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) follows the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 6th edition.Species status comments are taken from Morris and Hawkins's Birds of Madagascar: A Photographic Guide unless otherwise noted. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts. The IUCN Red List codes are those given by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources; they come from the IUCN's Red List website.

Lists of endemic birds

This is a master list pertaining to lists of endemic birds. As applied to birds, the term "endemic" refers to any species found only within a defined geographical area. There is no upper limit for the area; it would not be incorrect to refer to all bird species as endemic to Earth. In practice, the largest areas for which the term is in common use are countries and geographical regions. An Endemic Bird Area (EBA), a term devised by BirdLife International, is a geographical (rather than political) region of the world that contains two or more restricted-range (of no more than 50,000 km2) species, while a "secondary area" contains one restricted-range species.

Madagascan pochard

The Madagascan pochard or Madagascar pochard (Aythya innotata; Malagasy: Fotsy maso, Onjo) is an extremely rare diving duck of the genus Aythya. Thought to be extinct in the late 1990s, specimens of the species were rediscovered at Lake Matsaborimena in Madagascar in 2006. As of Fall 2017, the population is around 90 individuals. The species was reintroduced to the wild in December 2018.

The Madagascan pochard feeds mainly on aquatic insects, unlike other diving ducks in the same genus, Aythya. Ducklings begin making short dives at around 14 days old, before which they feed on the surface.

Endemism in birds
Australasia ecozone
Oceania ecozone
The World


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