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Subdesert Mesite Images
The Subdesert Mesite (Monias benschi) is a ground-dwelling bird endemic to Madagascar. It is one of three species in the mesite family Mesitornithidae, and is restricted in distribution to a small low-land region in southwest Madagascar. The Subdesert Mesite is a medium sized terrestrial bird which is often described as rail-like (a family with which the mesites are sometimes placed). The species has a long and downward-curved bill distinguishing it from the other members of the family. Both sexes are greyish above and show thin white eyebrows. Both have white underparts; the male has black crescent-shaped spots on the side of the neck and upper breast. The female has rufous spots that may merge into a general rufous tone, and has a tawny cheek patch. The Subdesert Mesite is restricted to spiny thicket with open areas from sea-level to 130 meters. It forages by picking invertebrates, seeds and fruit off the ground and may dig into the surface. The birds nests are exposed platforms of twigs built in a bush within 2 meters of the ground. One or two eggs are laid. Incubation and care of the young is shared by both sexes. They may be polyandrous or polygynous. The population of this species may be dense within its extremely restricted geographic range. It is vulnerable from habitat degradation, predators, hunting, lack of official protection and very restricted range.