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Bernieridae - Malagasy Warblers

Appert's Tetraka¬† Xanthomixis apperti ©James Wakelin Website

The Malagasy warblers are a newly validated clade of passerines. They were formally named Bernieridae in 2010. The family currently consists of eleven species (in eight genera) of small forest birds. These birds are all endemic to Madagascar.

The monophyly of this group has been proposed as early as 1934 (Salomonsen 1934). But the traditional assignments of these birds were maintained, mistaken by their convergent evolution and the lack of dedicated research. The families to which the Malagasy warblers were formerly assigned - Pycnonotidae (bulbuls) but especially Timaliidae (Old World babblers) and the Old World warbler - were used as 'wastebin taxa', uniting unrelated lineages that were somewhat similar ecologically and morphologically.

Several of these species are very poorly known and were described by science only very recently. Appert's Tetraka was only described in 1972 and the Cryptic Warbler in 1996. The Appert's tetraka, along with the dusky tetraka are threatened by habitat loss, and are listed as vulnerable.

Most Malagasy warblers live in the humid rainforests in the east of Madagascar, though a few species are found in the drier south west of the island. They feed on insects and will form mixed-species feeding flocks of up to six species while foraging.

The Malagasy Warblers or Bernieridae, is a small family recently split from the old super family of Old World Warblers. Currently, [as at January 2017] 11 species are included as below:

White-throated Oxylabes Oxylabes madagascariensis

Long-billed Bernieria Bernieria madagascariensis

Cryptic Warbler Cryptosylvicola randriansoloi

Wedge-tailed Jery Hartertula flavoviridis

Thamnornis Thamnornis chloropetoides

Spectacled Tetraka Xanthomixis zosterops
Appert's Tetraka Xanthomixis apperti
Dusky Tetraka Xanthomixis tenebrosa
Grey-crowned Tetraka Xanthomixis cinereiceps

Madagascar Yellowbrow Crossleyia xanthophrys

Rand's Warbler Randia pseudozosterops

Family Links

Malagasy Warblers Bernieridae

Family Account

Madagascar is a world apart. It is a land of lemurs, chameleons, and mystery. The island has been separated from mainland Africa since the end of the Jurassic era, 150 million years ago. This was before the origin of passerine birds, so all the songbirds on Madagascar evolved from colonists that reached Madagascar, presumably in large part from Africa. The avifauna is depauperate and 80% of the passerines are endemics.

Malagasy Warblers Bernieridae

Family Account

The Malagasy warblers are a newly validated clade of songbirds. They were formally named Bernieridae in 2010

Species Links

Appert's Tetraka Xanthomixis apperti

BirdLife Species Account

Appert's Tetraka Xanthomixis apperti

Species Account

Appert's tetraka or Appert's greenbul (Xanthomixis apperti) is a small passerine bird endemic to the south-west of Madagascar.

Appert's Tetraka Xanthomixis apperti

IUCN Species Status

15 cm. Small, mainly terrestrial babbler-like bird. Greenish upperparts, with darker flight feathers and tail. Greyish crown, nape and rear ear-coverts, with short dull off-white supercilium. Whitish throat, and variably-washed peachy-orange breast and upper belly. Whitish lower belly and vent. Pale pink bill with darker culmen, pale pinkish-grey legs.

Appert's Tetraka Xanthomixis apperti

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Phyllastrephus apperti Colston, 1972, 40 km south-east of Ankazoabo, south-western Madagascar.

Appert's Tetraka Xanthomixis apperti

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 11