Backyard Birds

Madagascar Fody aka Red Cardinal Fody or Common Fody

The Madagascar Fodies (Foudia madagascariensis) – also known as Red Fodies, Red Cardinal Fodies or Common Fodies – are abundant in their native habitat of Madagascar, and these small weavers have been introduced to many other islands.

Fody Information and Listing of Species … Fody Photo Gallery

Madagascar Fodies - Male and Female

Red FodiesOverviewAlternate (Global) Names

Distribution / HabitatSubspecies, Ranges and ID

DescriptionCalls / Vocalizations

Breeding / NestingDiet / Feeding

The Madagascar Fodies (Foudia madagascariensis) – also known as Red Fodies, Red Cardinal Fodies or Common Fodies – are abundant in their native habitat of Madagascar (an island off  the east coast of southern Africa), and these small weavers have been introduced to many other islands.

Non-breeding birds, juveniles and females basically look like plain sparrows. However, just before the breeding season, the male molts into a flashy scarlet-red plumage.

Distribution / Habitat

The Madagascar Fodies are native to the island of Madagascar. They have been introduced to some other islands in the Indian Ocean, including the Amirantes, Chagos, Seychelles, Rodrigues, Mauritius and Réunion; as well as on the island of Saint Helena – located in the South Atlantic Ocean.

They also occur on the Glorieuses and Comoro Islands, which they may have colonized without human assistance. Recently, breeding pairs have been discovered in Oman and Bahrain in the Arabian Peninsula.

They inhabit areas grasslands, natural savannahs, forest clearings, farmlands and rice paddies, where they sometimes regarded as pests.

Subspecies and Ranges:

Most authorities consider this a monotypic species. However, the form found on the island Reunion is sometimes considered a species.

Madagascar Fody, Madagascar Red Fody (nominate) (Foudia madagascariensis madagascariensis – Linnaeus, 1766)

Range: Madagascar, Mauritius and Chagos Chagos Archipelago Island group in the central Indian Ocean

Réunion Fody (Foudia madagascariensis bruante) – Disputed race. Most combine them with nominate

Range: Island of Réunion east of Madagascar

Madagascar or Red FodyDescription


Average Length: ~ 5 inches (12.5 – 13.5 cm)

Weight Range: 0.49 – 0.67 oz (14 – 19 grams) – Note: some list the maximum weight of these birds to be as high as 0.95 oz or 27 g

Plumage Details / Adults


Breeding Male: Bright red plumage with black markings around each eye. Its wings and tail are olive-brown. Plumage variations exist with some males having a plumage that is more orangey or yellowish. In captivity a yellow form has occurred.

Non-breeding Males: Outside the monsoon (rainy) season, males molt into a plain, olive-brown plumage that resembles that of the females’.

Female / Non-breeding Males and Juveniles:

The upper body is olive-brown; the plumage below is greyish-brown.

Diet / Feeding

Madagascar fodies feed on grass and rice seeds, insects, nectar and arthropods (such as caterpillars, moths, spiders and beetles).

They often remove the nectar from a flower’s base.

Breeding / Nesting

The Madagascar Fodies form monogamous pair bonds. Most breeding activities are observed between October to March.

The male uses grass strips to weave a domed nest with a side entrance that is sometimes extended into a short tunnel. These nests are typically attached to coconut palms, trees, branches of shrubs, reeds or tall grasses.

The average clutch consists of 2 – 4 pale-blue/green, slightly gloss eggs that are incubated by the female alone. Both the male and the female feed and protect the young.

Calls / Vocalizations / Sounds

Alternate (Global) Names

Chinese: ??? … Czech: Snovatec madagaskarský … Danish: Madagaskarvæver … Dutch: Madagascarwever, Madagaskarwever … Finnish: Madagaskarinkutoja … French: Foudi de Madagascar, Foudi rouge, Foudy malgache … German: Madagaskar Weber, Madagaskarweber … Italian: Fody rosso, Tessitore fiammante … Japanese: beninojiko, shiroharabeninojiko … Malagasy: Fodilahimena, Fodimena, Fody, horovana … Norwegian: Madagaskarvever, Rødvever … Polish: Fudi madagaskarski, wiklacz czerwony, wik?acz czerwony … Russian: ?????????????? ????? … Slovak: fodia ?ervená … Spanish: Fodi Malgache, Fodi Rojo … Swedish: Madagaskarvävare

Life Cycle

Their maximum recorded lifespan is 10+ years. They gain reproductive maturity at the age of one year.

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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