Mauritius Fody

Foudia rubra

Photo: Dr. Philips Edwards

Mauritius Fody

Species type: Bird
Species (Common name): Mauritius Fody, Foudi de Maurice, Cardinal de Maurice
Scientific name: Foudia rubra
Endemism: Endemic to Mauritius
Conservation status: Endangered

Description: The Mauritius fody is a small songbird of about 14 cm in length. Breeding males are bright red from head to chest with an orange patch on the rump, while the female is a duller olive-brown colour with darker wings. It is easy to confuse the Mauritius fody with the introduced Madagascar Fody which is very common in Mauritius. Breeding male Madagascar fodies have a completely red body. Madagascar fodies also have a thicker beak for eating seeds while the thinner beak of the Mauritius fody is use to probe for insects.

Fun facts:

  1. The Mauritius fody is in the same family as the weaver bird. Male and female fodies cooperate to weave their nests from available plant material such as twigs and grass.
  2. The Mauritius fody has an unusual brushed-tipped tongue which helps it to feed on nectar.
  3. The Mauritius fody is threatened by habitat loss and predation from introduced predators such as rats and monkeys. By 2001 there were perhaps as few as 100 breeding pairs remaining.
  4. Mauritian fodies have been translocated to Ile aux Aigrettes which has no introduced mammals apart from the Indian house shrew. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation first released fodies on the island in 2003. The species has thrived in the absence of predators such as rats and monkeys and now the population on Ile aux Aigrettes is about 55-60 breeding pairs.
  5. Conservation efforts such as translocation and the control of predators such as rats and monkeys on the mainland have helped the population recover to the point where the species was downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered in 2009.