Euryceros prevostii



11-12 inches (28-31 cm) length
3-4 ounces (84-114 g) weight

Dense, humid, evergreen forest



Habitat Loss
Climate Change


The birds can catch insects while in flight, a behavior called “hawking.”

When they capture larger prey like frogs or lizards, they dismember them to swallow the pieces.

The distinctive blue bill is 2 in (51 mm) long and over an inch (30 mm) deep.

Males and females are similar in appearance; juveniles are dark brown and buff, with a pale brown bill that turns blue as the bird ages.

Males and females are similar in appearance; juveniles are dark brown and buff, with a pale brown bill that turns blue as the bird ages.


This strange and beautiful bird is unmistakable with its large, strikingly blue bill. The bill is arched and hooked, with a black tip, and allows the bird to feed on both large and small prey. The helmet vanga’s feathers are mostly blue-black, contrasting with reddish colors on the mantle, back, shoulders, and wings. Some pale brown stripes are visible on belly and flanks, and the legs and feet are blue-gray.

©Bert Harris

Foods and Feeding

The helmet vanga feeds on large insects such as cockroaches, moths, butterflies, crickets, and beetles. It also preys on a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates, including snails, spiders, frogs, geckos, chameleons, and lizards.


These birds are secretive and hard to find, often sitting motionless in a tree for long periods as they watch for food. Helmet vangas can be seen alone or in small groups, and sometimes gather with other bird species. Helmet vanagas take short flights between foraging sites, catching insects as they fly. They also snatch prey from leaves and branches, and sometimes jump onto larger prey on the ground.


In breeding season, both the male and female of a mated pair build the nest, a cup-shaped structure placed in the fork of tree branches, typically about 6 to 10 feet (2 to 4 meters) above the ground. The nest is made of mosses and leaves woven with twigs. Both mates share incubation duties, and they will both defend their nest and chicks against predators by attacking while loudly calling.

©Cordenos Thierry

Habitat Use

The helmet vanga is an arboreal species, spending most of its time in trees. It is endemic to northeastern Madagascar, where it lives in evergreen, humid lowland forests. It is typically found at about 1,312 to 2,952 feet (400 to 900 meters) elevation, but occasionally higher or lower.

©Mikael Bauer

Reproduction and Life Cycle

The breeding season takes place during the southern summer, between September and January. The female lays two to three pale pinkish eggs with dark red mottling. At hatching, the chicks are altricial, without feathers and dependent on their parents. After seven to eight days, their feathers start growing in. The young then develop quickly, fledging and leaving the nest about 17 days after hatching.

Conservation and Threats

The helmet vanga is threatened by habitat loss through deforestation for timber and expansion of agriculture. The species has a restricted range and patchy distribution, making it difficult to recover from population losses. It is found in several protected areas, but the population is only estimated to number about 15,000 mature individuals and is declining. Consequently, the IUCN Red List designates it as Vulnerable and in need of conservation protection.