Family Mesites (Mesitornithidae)


White-breasted Mesite (Mesitornis variegatus)


French: Mésite variée German: Kurzfuß-Stelzenralle Spanish: Mesito pechiblanco
Other common names: Roatelo, White-breasted Roatelo

Mesites variegata

I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire

, 1838,



Formerly placed in genus Mesoenas. Recent anomalous record from rainforest may prove to belong to subspecifically distinct population#R, but no relevant specimens known to exist. Monotypic.


Madagascar. Known only to occur in three widely separated small areas in W & N, between 12°44’ S (Analamera) and 20° S (Menabe forests); however, single anomalous record from E (Ambatovaky).

Descriptive notes

31 cm; 103–111 g, female may be smaller and lighter, but not apparent in field. Pale creamy to white supercilium and throat; breast also pale cream, sometimes tinged... read more


Considered to be highly vocal, with song usually given as a series of loud whistles in duet: "... read more


Primarily found in dry western deciduous forests, at altitudes below 150 m. Single recent anomalous... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly feeds on small adult and larval invertebrates, but also takes some plant matter. Food items recorded as being taken, in order of... read more


Active nests found Oct–Apr, with egg-laying peaking Nov–Jan. Apparently monogamous, with long-lasting pair-bond. Nest is loose... read more


No evidence to suggest that species is anything other than sedentary; groups maintain same... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Population thought to be in rapid decline. Does not occur in at least some seemingly suitable forests between known centres; this may be due to past forest... read more

Recommended citation

Evans, M.I., Hawkins, F., Duckworth, J.W., Kirwan, G.M. & de Juana, E. (2020). White-breasted Mesite (Mesitornis variegatus). 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 18 February 2020).