I’ve never been to Madagascar, but here is one good reason to go. What an amazing beast of a bird this is! I have just produced this illustration of a Helmet Vanga for a guide book that I am working on for the Africa Adventure Company.
I don’t like to draw and paint birds that I’ve never actually seen, but I had no choice here. For reference, I downloaded two short video clips on the Internet Bird Collection website (so thanks to Ian Hempstead who filmed a male in the Masoala National Park in north-eastern Madagascar) and I also studied photographs in books and on the net.
Whether I’ve done justice to this magnificent bird I’m not sure . . perhaps I’ll get to Masoala myself one day and find out?
Note: the Vangidae bird family has 15 species endemic to Madagascar, and one to the nearby Comores. They are forest-dwelling birds that seem to occupy the niches exploited by bushshrikes and woodhoopoes in Africa, feeding on large insects and their larvae, as well as chameleons and geckos. The Helmet Vanga is the largest species; at 30cm being about the size of a coucal.