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Mesites and Roatelos: Mesitornithidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Mesites are diurnal, that is, they are active during the day. Mesites spend most of their time on the ground. Although they are able to fly, they generally do so only when threatened. Mesites are social species, that is, individuals congregate with other members of the same species. In the brown mesite and the white-breasted mesite, birds can often be found in groups of three. This is frequently a male and female pair with their most recent young. The subdesert mesite is generally found in larger groups, of anywhere from six to ten individuals. Both white-breasted mesites and subdesert mesites are territorial, that is, they will defend their territory from other individuals of the same species.

Mesite songs can be fairly complex. In both brown mesites and white-breasted mesites, the male and female of a pair will sometimes sing together.

The brown mesite and white-breasted mesite are monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus), with each male bird mating with only a single female. The subdesert mesite is polygamous (puh-LIH-guh-mus), with each male mating with multiple females. Mesites build nests of sticks in low bushes. Usually the female lays one to three eggs at a time sometime during the rainy season from October to April. It is not known how long the eggs take to hatch. Mesite chicks are precocial (pree-KOH-shul), meaning that they are fairly well developed when they hatch. For example, they have feathers and are able to move around. Mesite chicks tend to stay with their parents for quite some time. In the case of the white-breasted mesite, chicks may remain with the parents for up to a year.


Some species of birds, including mesites, many wading birds, and species like chickens and ducks, have precocial chicks. Precocial chicks are developmentally advanced by the time they hatch. They are born with down feathers and are also able to move around and fend for themselves to some degree. Precocial chicks are contrasted with the altricial (al-TRISH-uhl) young of other bird species, including most songbirds. Altricial chicks are featherless and helpless when they hatch.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsMesites and Roatelos: Mesitornithidae - Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, White-breasted Mesite (mesitornis Variegata): Species Account - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, ROATELOS MESITES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS