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Philepittidae – Asities

Schlegel’s Asity in Madagascar: Photo by Frédéric Pelsy

Asities, belonging to the family Philepittidae, are small, vibrant inhabitants of Madagascar’s forests. This family includes only four species, known for their striking sexual dimorphism and elaborate courtship displays. Males often sport colorful wattles or brilliant plumage to attract females. These birds primarily feed on nectar and fruit, playing a vital role in pollination within their ecosystem.

Overview of Philepittidae

All males of these endemic birds from Madagascar’s forests share intense iridescent blue or green facial wattles. The two asity species have short but not particularly broad bills, while the sunbird-asities have decurved bills similar to those of their namesakes. Limited knowledge exists about their breeding biology, but one well-studied species appears to have a lek-polygynous mating system. Asities construct pendulous nests similar to those of their broadbill relatives, but uniquely punch the entrance through the side wall after the nest is completed rather than weaving it in during construction.