Red-shouldered vanga -- 红肩钩嘴鵙 (Calicalicus rufocarpalis)

Red-shouldered vanga
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Red-shouldered vanga fact file

Red-shouldered vanga description

GenusCalicalicus (1)

This small bird was first described to science as recently as 1997 (1). It is named for the brick-red feathers on the ‘shoulders’, which contrast with the grey back and dark grey wings. The underparts have whitish plumage, with a wash of chestnut over the breast and flanks (2). A black patch sits like a bib at the top of the breast and extends up over the sides of the neck, contrasting with the white face. Female red-shouldered vangas differ slightly from this description, having olive-grey-brown upperparts, a whitish throat, and buff to whitish underparts. The eyes are pale lemon yellow, the bill is black and the legs and feet are pinkish-grey (2). Vangas generally have an elaborate and melodic vocal repertoire (3); this species song is a loud ‘tyu-tee(4).

Length: 14 – 15 cm (2)

Red-shouldered vanga biology

Often found in small groups, the red-shouldered vanga searches for food in low, dense bushes, two to three metres off the ground, where it plucks its small insect prey from leaves and branches (2) (4). Vangas generally build deep, bowl-shaped nests (3).


Red-shouldered vanga range

The red-shouldered vanga is endemic to Madagascar where, to date, it has been recorded from several locations in the south-west of the island (4).


Red-shouldered vanga habitat

This species is found in dense scrub dominated by Euphorbia species (a diverse group of succulent plants) (4), at altitudes around 100 metres (2).


Red-shouldered vanga status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) by the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Red-shouldered vanga threats

While in some areas the habitat of the red-shouldered vanga is being degraded by goat grazing, shrub clearance for charcoal, and timber extraction, the majority of the habitat remains intact as the soil is unsuitable for agriculture. However, as the red-shouldered vanga is known only from a small area, its status could deteriorate rapidly should this situation change (4).


Red-shouldered vanga conservation

The red-shouldered vanga occurs within one protected area: the Tsimanampetsotsa Strict Reserve. Another region within its range has been identified as a site of special biodiversity interest and warrants formal protection (4). This protection, along with further research into the species, has been recommended by BirdLife International to ensure this species’ conservation status does not worsen (4).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on the red-shouldered vanga see:



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A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.


  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
  2. Morris, P. and Hawkins, F. (1998) Birds of Madagascar. A Photographic Guide. Pica Press, East Sussex.
  3. Langrand, O. (1990) Guide to the Birds of Madagascar. Yale University Press, New Haven and London.
  4. BirdLife International (May, 2008)

Image credit

Red-shouldered vanga  
Red-shouldered vanga

© Per Smitterberg

Per Smitterberg


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