Helmet Vanga

Helmet Vanga (Euryceros prevostii), Masoala, Madagascar

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.

About Duncan Butchart

Duncan Butchart is interested in all aspects of the natural world, with a particular fascination for birds and their ecological relationships.
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3 Responses to Helmet Vanga

  1. Sam Parsons says:

    Very impressive beak – looks like it could crack walnuts!

    • nature works says:

      Yes, that is quite a bill . . not sure that anyone knows why it is so huge . . probably some kind of mate attraction . . .

      I gather that these birds feed on chameleons quite a lot . . . . . .

      Did you know that there is a species called Parson’s Chameleon!? I have painted one for the same book that I am busy with . . it is the world’s biggest chameleon at around 60cm, so even the Helmet Vanga won’t be taking it on!

      I need to get to get to Madagascar, although it is common knowledge that environmental destruction is terrible and most species are threatened . .

      Thanks again for your comments and feedback on my blog!


  2. Ian Hempstead says:

    Duncan, Good to know you enjoyed my video clips and found them useful. Nice picture! Regards Ian

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