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Mesites and Roatelos: Mesitornithidae

Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, White-breasted Mesite (mesitornis Variegata): Species AccountPHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, ROATELOS MESITES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS

WHITE-BREASTED MESITE (Mesitornis variegata): SPECIES ACCOUNT

The three species of mesites and roatelos are approximately 12 inches (30 centimeters) in length. Mesites and roatelos are characterized by short, rounded wings, long, wide tails, and sturdy legs. Their bills curve downward, making it easier for them to forage, or hunt for food, on the forest floor.


Mesites and roatelos are found exclusively on the large island of Madagascar, off the eastern coast of Africa. The brown mesite (also known as the brown roatelo) occupies forested areas in the eastern part of the island. The white-breasted mesite (or white-breasted roatelo) is found in forests in the western and northern parts of the island. The subdesert mesite occupies a small area between the coast and hills in the southwestern potion of the island.


Mesites and roatelos are found in distinct habitats on Madagascar. The brown mesite inhabits humid rainforests. The white-breasted mesite inhabits deciduous (leafy) forests. The subdesert mesite occupies open, spiny thicket habitats.


All three species of mesites are well known to local humans and are hunted for food. However, in certain portions of Madagascar, the brown mesite is not hunted because it is protected by a taboo, one so strictly observed that it is forbidden to mention the bird's name.


The three species of mesites are considered Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction, by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). This is due primarily to habitat loss, especially the destruction of forest habitats for agricultural use, logging, or the production of charcoal. Species associated with humans, such as dogs and rats, also negatively affect some populations.

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Animal Life ResourceBirds