Mauritius Fody (Foudia rubra)
The Mauritius fody is found only on the island of Mauritius. The male Mauritius fody boasts a brilliant red head, neck and breast, while females have drabber olive-brown plumage. Adults are approximately 14 centimetres long. This solitary songbird prefers native scrub and forest habitat and feeds mainly on insects, supplemented by fruit and nectar.
Historically, fodies inhabited the upland areas of southwest Mauritius. Today, this critically endangered bird is found in just three areas of the island: Bassin Blanc, Macchabee Forest Road and Ile aux Aigrettes.
A 1999–2001 survey revealed that the number of fodies in the wild had shrunk substantially since 1975, from 247–260 pairs to just over 100. Thanks to intensive management, including hand-rearing and translocations to offshore islands, the population has stabilized and is increasing. According to the most recent population estimates, there are 160–220 individuals on the mainland, with an additional 180–200 individuals on offshore island Ile aux Aigrettes. In 2009, the species was downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered.
Clearing Mauritius’s forests has been catastrophic to the fody, while predators such as black rats and crab-eating macaques that have been brought to the island have caused almost total breeding failure in most areas. The native fodies may also face competition from the Madagascar fody, which has been introduced to Mauritius.