To: "Wim Vader" <>
Subject: madagascar
From: L&L Knight <>
Date: Fri, 16 Nov 2007 16:16:52 +1000
A couple of questions Wim

What is the bird migration situation in Madagascar? Is it possible that you were there before the arrival of a number of summer migrants?

Could the skulking behaviour be a consequence of the local birds coming under hunting pressure in the present or past?

Regards, Laurie

On Thursday, November 15, 2007, at 10:14  PM, Wim Vader wrote:

< snip >

And I still wrestle with a number of questions afterwards. The first is: Why are there so few birds in these forests? I understand that Madagascar, however large, is an isolated island, and thus that the diversity of organisms, among them birds, will be lower here than on the continents (Our list closed below 200 species, mine on 186). And I also understand that much of nature on the island is sadly ruined so that the wonderful nature areas we visit are just the remnants of a once much larger and continuous forest. But those remnants are in many cases (e.g. the Masoala peninsula) still very large indeed. And still there are few birds there, not few species, but few individuals. I can not understand why this should be the case. There must be plenty of food both for frugivores and insectivores; in fact I was struck by the fact that all leaves more than one month old looked partly or completely 'moth-eaten', although it is true we saw few of the culprits themselves---but they must be there. I don't understand this paucity of birds in such a rich environment!

Nor do I understand why so many birds on Madagascar need to be such extreme skulkers. From the Mesites to the Ground-Rollers, and from the Emutails to the Oxylabes, a very large part of the birds we tried to watch did its utmost to prevent us actually seeing them. But why?? It can't just be to annoy birders! And it can't be , I think, because there are so extra-many predators here they need to hide from; as far as I can judge, there are rather fewer than more predators here than other places Again, I do not understand this at all, and will be very grateful for any explanation you may be able to give.


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