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Brachypteraciidae – Ground-Rollers

Scaly Ground-roller in Madagascar: Photo by Tomáš Grim

Brachypteraciidae, commonly known as ground-rollers, are a family of birds found predominantly in Madagascar and nearby islands. These unique avians are characterized by their striking plumage, stout bodies, and short, rounded wings adapted for limited flight. Ground-rollers inhabit various forest habitats, where they forage on the forest floor for insects, small vertebrates, and other prey. Unlike their aerial counterparts, they are less reliant on flight, preferring to walk or hop along the ground in search of food. With their diverse colors and patterns, ground-rollers add a vibrant touch to the tropical landscapes they call home.

Overview of Brachypteraciidae

These insectivorous birds native to Madagascar typically feature robust heads, adorned in hues of olive or brown complemented by striking blue or rufous patterns. Interestingly, they possess both powder-down and long aftershafts within their body feathers. Primarily displaying thrush or thrasher-like behaviors, they predominantly roam the forest floor, as indicated by their name. With the exception of one species, they all construct their nests within burrows they excavate. Despite their ground-dwelling tendencies, most ground-rollers ascend to branches to emit their distinct hooting territorial calls, punctuated by a decisive nod of the head with each note. Given their restricted range and unique evolutionary lineage, there remains much to unravel about these avian species before they vanish from our sight.