Helmet Vanga Facts and Photos

Information about the Bird Helmet Vanga

The helmet vanga (Euryceros prevostii) is a distinctive-looking bird of the vanga family, Vangidae, and is classified in its own genus, Euryceros. It is mainly blue-black, with rufous wings and a huge arched blue bill. It is restricted to lowland and lower montane rainforests of northeastern Madagascar. Its diet is composed of invertebrates, predominantly insects.

The helmet vanga is the only member of the genus Euryceros. Like most vangas it was originally placed in the shrike family, Laniidae. When the ornithologist Austin L. Rand moved the majority of the vangas into a separate family in 1936, he placed the helmet vanga in its own monotypic family, Eurycerotidae. It was moved to the vanga family by J. Dorst in 1960. The closest relative within the family is believed to be the rufous vanga, which is thought to have split from the helmet vanga 800,000 years ago. The specific name prevostii commemorates the French artist Florent Prvost.
The helmet vanga is a large vanga, the second-largest species of vanga after the sickle-billed vanga. In length it measures 28to 31cm (11-12in), and it weighs 84to 114g (3.0-4.0oz). The most distinctive feature is the massive hooked bill, which is 51mm (2.0in) long and 30mm (1.2in) deep. The plumage of the head, neck, throat, breast and belly is a solid blue-black, as are the primary coverts and remiges of the wing. The mantle, the back, and the rest of the wings are rufous. The tail, which is long and broad, is black below and rufous above. The bill is bright blue with a black tip. Both sexes are alike.
It is restricted to lowland and lower montane rainforests in north-east Madagascar. Sites where it can be found include Marojejy National Park, the Masoala National Park and Mantadia National Park.
Adults mainly eat large insects, but food items brought to young in the nest may be more varied, including snails, lizards, spiders and crabs.
Helmet vangas are mongamous and seasonal breeders. The breeding season runs from October to January on the Masoala Peninsula. Both sexes work on the construction of the nest, which is a cup shape 15cm (5.9in) in diameter constructed from woven plant fibres, mosses and twigs, and is placed in a fork in a tree 2to 4m (6.6-13.1ft) off the ground. There is one record of courtship feeding by a male before copulation. The clutch size is two or three pinkish white eggs.

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