Blue Vanga Cyanolanius madagascarinus

Guy M. Kirwan, Satoshi Yamagishi, Josep del Hoyo, Nigel Collar, and Masahiko Nakamura
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020


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A small and, within its range, highly distinctive vanga. Male has crown, nape, cheeks , ear-coverts and upperparts , including upperwing-coverts, blue, crown  and nape  with slight lilac tinge; black line through eye, extending to base of bill and narrowly above and below it, including chin; rear ear-coverts edged by narrow, smudged black line; tail  blue with blackish tip; throat and underparts bright white. Female  is somewhat duller than the male; underparts off-white, breast sometimes with light buffy or pale orange wash. Juvenile differs from adult in having gray-blue, less vivid blue, head, and upperparts.

Similar Species

No other vanga species occurs on the Comoro Islands. In Madagascar, Chabert Vanga (Leptopterus chabert) is broadly similar to the present species, but is obviously darker above, with a more prominent blue and fleshy blue eye-ring, and immatures are distinguished by their larger size, bluish-tinged upperparts, and vocalizations (1).





Top of head dark brown finely spotted buff, becoming dull turquoise on hindneck, and rest of upperparts dark greenish olive. Tail as adult female, but blue-green pattern duller. Remiges dark brown, the outer webs tinged olive, with narrower and buff fringes, and edges of upperwing coverts are dull bluish green. Lores to cheek and ear-coverts dark brown, mottled buff. Throat dirty white, grading into olive-buff breast and rear underparts, becoming darker on undertail coverts.


Male. Forehead to hindneck, reaching down to upper cheek, ear-coverts and upper neck, shiny cobalt-blue. Mantle and scapulars to uppertail coverts paler shiny blue. Tail black, washed blue on r1 and the outer webs of rr2–5, except at tips. Flight feathers black, primaries narrowly fringed bright blue, secondaries more broadly edged the same color, tertials black with blue outer webs, alula black, primary- and greater coverts blackish, also edged blue; median and lesser coverts blue. Broad band through lores to front of eye and narrowly around base of mandible. Underparts entirely white. Underside to greater primary-coverts black, smaller primary-coverts and carpal edge blue, and rest of coverts and axillaries white.

Female. Forehead to nape and rear ear-coverts shiny cobalt-blue, becoming turquoise on hindneck. Mantle, scapulars, and back are paler, dull bluish green, then bluer again on rump and uppertail coverts. Tail blackish brown, washed greenish on r1 and the outer webs of rr2–5, except at tips. Remiges also blackish brown, but the edges of the flight feathers and the outer webs of the tertials are greenish blue; and the median and lesser coverts, and the fringes to the primary- and greater coverts are greenish blue. Lores sooty black, grayer around and below eye, and on fore ear-coverts. Upper chin sooty black, with white lower chin and throat, both tinged warm buff. Breast also washed warm buff, suffused grayish on the sides, and lower underparts deeper cinnamon-buff.


No information (1).

Bare Parts


  • C. m. madagascarinus: Brilliant pale or cold blue, with dark tip and cutting edges in adult male, and dark brown with similar pattern in adult female. Juvenile has black bill with pale pink base.
  • C. m. comorensis: Ultramarine-blue, tipped black in adult male, dark brown in adult female.


  • C. m. madagascarinus: Pale sky-blue or pale greenish blue in adult male, brown in adult female and juvenile.
  • C. m. comorensis: Pale blue in adult.

Legs and Feet

  • C. m. madagascarinus: Blackish or black in adult male, or gray in adult female.
  • C. m. comorensis: Black or dark slate in adult.


Linear Measurements

Overall length 16–19 cm.

Linear measurements (in mm, with means, where available, and sample sizes, from Safford and Hawkins 1):

C. m. madagascarinus

C. m. comorensis
Wing length 83–92 (88.5, n = 27) 92–98 (96.0, n = 6)
Tail length 60–68 (64.1, n = 27) 63–67 (65.4, n = 6)
Bill length 16–19 (17.1, n = 27) 19.5–22.0 (20.4, n​​​​​​​ = 6)
Tarsus length 19–20 (19.3, n​​​​​​​ = 10) 23 (n = 2)
Wing length 83–92 (87.0, n​​​​​​​ = 38) 87–96 (91.4, n​​​​​​​ = 5)
Tail length 60–69 (64.5, n​​​​​​​ = 38) 63–67 (65.0, n​​​​​​​ = 5)
Bill length 16–19 (17.4, n​​​​​​​ = 27) 19–20 (19.6, n​​​​​​​ = 5)
Tarsus length 19–20 (19.4, n​​​​​​​ = 10) 21.5–23.0 (n​​​​​​​ = 3)

Other mensural data were presented by Louette and Herremans (2).


Two samples of C. m. madagascarinus (both involving unsexed material): 19.5–25.5 g (mean 22.9 g, n = 8); 19.5–23.5 g (n​​​​​​​ = 7) (3, 1). No information for other subspecies.​​​​​​​

Recommended Citation

Kirwan, G. M., S. Yamagishi, J. del Hoyo, N. Collar, and M. Nakamura (2020). Blue Vanga (Cyanolanius madagascarinus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.bluvan1.01