Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk (Aviceda madagascariensis)

Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Aviceda madagascariensis | [authority] Smith, 1834 | [UK] Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk | [FR] Baza malgache | [DE] Lemurenweih | [ES] Baza Malgache | [NL] Madagaskarkoekoekswouw


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Aviceda madagascariensis AF Madagascar


Members of the genus Aviceda are rather small to medium-sized kites (usually called Cuckoo-Falcons or Bazas). Their wings quite long and pointed, the tail is of moderate length and not forked. The edge of the upper mandible has two clearly indicated tooth-like protrusions. They have short, stout legs and feet with well developed talons. Two or three feathers of the nape are elongated as a crest, which is very pronounced in the Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes) but barely noticeable in the Madagascar Cuckoo-falcon (Aviceda madagascariensis). Adults of the genus are often boldly patterned and barred; the young less so.

Physical charateristics

The adult Madagascar Cuckoo Falcon has a brown head, with black streaks and white bars. Its slight crest, where present, is dark brown. The rest of its upper parts are brown, paler or darker with white feather bases often conspicuous. The upper tail coverts are white with brown tips, the tail itself being greyish brown, with a paler tip, and four darker cross bands, the first two sometimes bordered with white. The wing quills are barred pale and dark brown, with white markings on inner webs. The throat is white, streaked with brown. The rest of the underside is also white, although the feathers of the flanks and upper breast are broadly tipped with brown and narrowly edged with white forming a brown band across the chest. The under-wing coverts are dull rufous, edged with white. The wing and tail quills below ar white, barred with black. The eyes are yellow, the cere and feet off-white. There is little size difference between the sexes.
Immature birds are very like the adult, hut darker brown above with some white showing on the head and nape. The tail is white at the base, becoming grey towards its end, where it is tipped with white. There are also three broad black bars on the tail. Below, it is similar to adult, but with spots of darker brown.

Listen to the sound of Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk

[audio: Cuckoo-Hawk.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 40 cm size max.: 45 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa : Madagascar


This is a bird of wooded country, preferring the edges of forests, plantations, and the denser savannahs and scrub land. It usually perches in cover and is only rarely seen in the open, though it will sometimes perch on a conspicuous branch for some hours. It soars only occasionally. Most of its hunting is done within dense vegetation.


Nesting has been observed in November-December, the nest was in the top of a 14-m high tree in a zone of heavily degraded forest next to a marsh. Clutch probably two eggs. No further data.

Feeding habits

This bird feeds principally on reptiles, with a strong preference for chameleons, and insects. Arboreal lizards form up to 90% of the total food intake.


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk status Least Concern


Sedentary, endemic to Madagascar, mostly on the eastern side of the island, in woodland and scrub country

Distribution map

Madagascar Cuckoo-Hawk distribution range map

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