Sickle-billed vanga

Falculea palliata

The sickle-billed vanga is a species of bird in the vanga family Vangidae. It is monotypic within the genus ''Falculea''. It is endemic to Madagascar. Its natural habitats are tropical dry forests and tropical dry shrubland.
Sickle-billed Vanga in Ifaty, Madagascar We were very lucky for this active bird, the largest of vangas, to sit still right above us in the Spiny Forest. This concerns an insect-eating, very social bird that uses its strange bill to scoop insects from tree holes. It's like the wood pecker of Madagascar, without the pecking. Falculea palliata,Ifaty,Madagascar,Sickle-billed Vanga,Spiny Forest

Appearance

The sickle-billed vanga is the largest of the vangas, measuring 32 cm in length and weighing 106 to 119 g . The most striking feature is the bill, which is strongly decurved and measures 77 mm and is blue-grey fading to ivory at the tip. The plumage is striking, with a white head, breast and belly and the back, wings and tail being black with a blue sheen. The iris is brown and the orbital ring around the eye is black. The legs are strong and coloured dark grey to pale blue. There is no sexual dimorphism. Juveniles are similar to adults but the black feathers on the back and wings are tipped with buff.
Sickle-billed Vanga, Ankarafantsika, Madagascar Nesting near the restaurant of the park. I tried for a long time, but could not get closer than this. Africa,Ankarafantsika,Falculea palliata,Geotagged,Madagascar,Madagascar North,Sickle-billed Vanga,Spring,World

Distribution

The sickle-billed vanga is endemic to Madagascar, where it is found throughout the western side of the island. It ranges from sea-level up to 900 metres . It is found in dry deciduous forest as well as thorn-forest. It can also be found in open savanna and in wooded areas around villages. The species is non-migratory.

The species is common within its range and is protected by a number of national parks, including Andohahela National Park, Ankarafantsika National Park, and Berenty Reserve. As such it is evaluated as Least Concern by the IUCN.
Sickle-billed Vanga in Kirindi forest The back light was bad during this day trip in the Kirindi forest, but still I find this to be a remarkable bird, and it is little known. Falculea palliata,Kirindy Reserve,Madagascar,Sickle-billed Vanga

Habitat

The sickle-billed vanga is endemic to Madagascar, where it is found throughout the western side of the island. It ranges from sea-level up to 900 metres . It is found in dry deciduous forest as well as thorn-forest. It can also be found in open savanna and in wooded areas around villages. The species is non-migratory.

The species is common within its range and is protected by a number of national parks, including Andohahela National Park, Ankarafantsika National Park, and Berenty Reserve. As such it is evaluated as Least Concern by the IUCN.
Sickle-billed Vanga at Ankarana NP Bird showing its sickle perched in some bushes, seen at Ankarana NP, 28.10.2016 Ankarana,Falculea palliata,Madagascar,Sickle-billed Vanga,Sickle-billed vanga

Reproduction

The sickle-billed vanga is apparently a seasonal breeder, with the season running from October to January in Ankarafantsika National Park in the north western part of the island. This coincides with the end of the dry season. The species is one of the vangas that has a polyandrous breeding system, where one female will mate with two or more males and all are responsible for raising the young. It is the female that engages in courtship displays, approaching the male and quivering her wings while holding the body in a horizontal posture. The male does not perform any display in return. Sickle-billed vangas are territorial and the males in the group will defend the territory from rivals and from potential or actual predators.

The nest is atypical for the family, consisting of a large untidy bowl of twigs, 30–40 centimetres in diameter, situated 9–16 metres off the ground in the fork of a tree. The inner structure is lined with more delicate material. It is constructed by both sexes, but more work is done by the female. The clutch consists of three or four eggs, which are creamy white with mottling . Both sexes incubate the eggs, and feed and brood the chicks, but as with nest construction the female does more of the work than the males. The incubation period is 16 to 18 days, and chicks fledge after 19 to 23 days.
Sickle-billed Vanga in Spiny Forest, Madagascar  Falculea palliata,Ifaty,Madagascar,Sickle-billed Vanga,Spiny Forest

Food

The sickle-billed vanga is a social species, particularly in the tiding flea season when it can travel in groups of up to thirty birds while foraging for food and form roosting groups of over fifty birds. These flocks become smaller during the breeding season, but retain a small group of non-breeders that forage together over a wide area. They will form mixed-species foraging flocks with the related white-headed vanga and the crested drongo. The species feeds on a wide range of terrestrial invertebrates, including spiders, cockroaches, crickets, beetles, and worms. Small vertebrates, including chameleons and geckos, are also part of the diet and are also fed to nestlings. They generally feed in trees and particularly favour large branches, and will probe their long bill deep into holes and use it to lever off bark to get at concealed prey, occupying part of the niche usually filled by woodpeckers, which are absent from Madagascar .

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyVangidae
GenusFalculea
SpeciesF. palliata
Photographed in
Madagascar