email a friend
printable version
Van Dam's Vanga Xenopirostris damii
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

This species is listed as Endangered owing to its very small range (being currently known from only two sites). The habitat at both sites is under great pressure, especially from fire.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

23 cm. Large-billed vanga. Males have a glossy black cap and dark grey upperparts, with whitish underparts. Dark grey bill. Females and immatures are similar but cap is less extensive, with pale spots over eyes, and paler upperparts. Underparts of juveniles may be washed buffy. Similar spp. From other vangas and Ashy Cuckoo-shrike Coracina cinerea by very deep and powerful dark bill. Voice Calls tseeang very loudly. Hints Found in mixed-species flocks in dense deciduous forest, where it strips bark from dead branches, opens pupal cases and removes epiphytes with its strong bill. The noise of this debris falling aids the location of the species.

Distribution and population
Xenopirostris damii is currently known from only two sites (Ankarafantsika and Analamera) in north-west Madagascar. However, there is much suitable habitat between the two sites that has not been thoroughly surveyed (Morris and Hawkins 1998). It is considered the island's rarest and most threatened vanga (Langrand 1990).

Population justification
The total population is estimated at 2,272 individuals, thus it may lie at the lower end of the range 2,500-9,999 individuals. This range equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals. Mizuta et al. (2001) estimate territories of 5-8 ha, non-contiguous separated by c.200m, thus giving a 100m extra buffer around each territory. Hence an 8 ha territory takes up 24 ha. This is equivalent to 4 pairs/km2, or 8 indivs/km2. Habitat area: 20% of 1420 km2 = 284 km2. Total Population: 8 x 284 km2 = 2272 indivs. This estimate may be an optimistic minimum because the Jardin Botanique study site of Mizuta et al. (2001) is likely to have been chosen for ease of study.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to the ongoing destruction and degradation of its forest habitat (ZICOMA 1999). The likely rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.

The species is found at low altitude only in, or adjacent to, undisturbed, dry, deciduous forest (Langrand 1990), where it forages for invertebrates in dead wood and leaf clumps (Morris and Hawkins 1998), often joining other vangas (particularly Rufous Vanga Schetba rufa) and other insectivores in mixed-species flocks (Morris and Hawkins 1998). The breeding season starts in October and extends until January at least (Morris and Hawkins 1998, Mizuta et al. 2001). Clutch size at 3-4 is large for a Xenopirostris vanga, with other congeners having two (Langrand 1990). Breeding pairs occupy widely separated, non-contiguous home ranges of 5-8 ha (Mizuta et al. 2001), suggesting approximate densities of 4 pairs/km2.

The species's habitat is declining in both extent and quality, due to the clearing and burning of forest for subsistence maize cultivation, uncontrolled bushfires, commercial logging and exploitation for charcoal and firewood (ZICOMA 1999).

Conservation Actions Underway
Both Ankarafantsika and Analamera are protected areas (Strict Reserve and Special Reserve respectively), but their long-term future is not certain (ZICOMA 1999). Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct population estimates in different habitats in Ankarafantsika and Analamera. Evaluate extent of habitat loss within key habitats due to human occupation and uncontrolled bushfires. Put measures in place to ensure the long-term protection of Ankarafantsika Strict Reserve and Analamera Special Reserve. Grant protected status to other sites that are found to be occupied by the species.

Collar, N. J.; Stuart, S. N. 1985. Threatened birds of Africa and related islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.

Langrand, O. 1990. Guide to the birds of Madagascar. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Mizuta, T.; Nakamura, M.; Yamagishi, S. 2001. Breeding ecology of Van Dam's Vanga Xenopirostris damii, an endemic species in Madagascar. Journal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology 33: 15-24.

Morris, P.; Hawkins, F. 1998. Birds of Madagascar: a photographic guide. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

ZICOMA. 1999. Zones d'Importance pour la Conservation des Oiseaux a Madagascar.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Starkey, M., Shutes, S., Evans, M., Ekstrom, J., Taylor, J.

Hawkins, F.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Xenopirostris damii. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Vangidae (Vangas)
Species name author Schlegel, 1866
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 4,991 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species