Family Mesites (Mesitornithidae)


Brown Mesite (Mesitornis unicolor)


French: Mésite unicolore German: Einfarb-Stelzenralle Spanish: Mesito unicolor
Other common names: Brown Roatelo

Mesites unicolor

Des Murs

, 1845,



Formerly placed in genus Mesoenas. Monotypic.


E Madagascar, from near Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin) to Marojejy; not recorded in apparently suitable Sambirano region of NW Madagascar.

Descriptive notes

30 cm; 148 g (one female). Sexes apparently similar in size and plumage. Whitish streak behind eye varies in intensity and extent, sometimes tapering down to form side-margin... read more


Considered to be especially vocal in the morning: song is a long series of phrases, each commencing... read more


Humid eastern forest, especially areas with dense leaf litter and sparse covering of herbs and... read more

Food and feeding

Little known. Known to take invertebrates and seeds from forest floor, and gleans from leaves and stems at ground-level, while the stomach... read more


Like other mesites, breeds in rainy season, late Nov–Dec; female with egg in oviduct collected in early Nov. Nest is platform of... read more


Difficult to assess significance of absence of records from certain sites at given times, as... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Apparently present over wide area, estimated at 37,000 km2, but very patchily distributed within that habitat and possibly prefers lower-lying areas, which are... read more

Recommended citation

Evans, M.I., Hawkins, F., Duckworth, J.W. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Brown Mesite (Mesitornis unicolor). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 February 2020).