Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Madagascar Spinetail (Zoonavena grandidieri)


French: Martinet de Grandidier German: Malegassensegler Spanish: Vencejo malgache
Other common names: Malagasy Spinetail, Madagascar Spine-tailed Swift

Chætura grandidieri

J. P. Verreaux

, 1867,

Mandrisis, eastern Madagascar


Previously placed in genus Chaetura. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • Z. g. grandidieri (J. P. Verreaux, 1867) – Madagascar.
  • Z. g. mariae (Benson, 1960) – Grand Comoro (Ngazidja), in Comoro Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    12 cm. The only spinetail on Madagascar and the Comoros. Small spinetail with typical wing shape, hooked in outer wing and bulging in midwing; square tail appears slightly... read more


    Generally considered to be rather quiet, but gives shrill, abrupt “zree” while foraging, sometimes... read more


    Essentially a forest species, including gallery forest within spiny forest zone. In Madagascar... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects. Forages low over canopy or between trees close to ground, alone or in pairs or small flocks, up to 15 recorded together, sometimes... read more


    Season thought to be Apr–Jan, though birds with enlarged gonads have been collected in Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Jan, Mar and May,... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Rather common, especially in moister E areas of Madagascar. Occurs in Perinet Special Reserve, c. 150 km E of Antananarivo, and in Réserve... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Madagascar Spinetail (Zoonavena grandidieri). 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 22 February 2020).