The Red fody, Foudia madagascariensis, otherwise known as the Madagascar fody, Red cardinal fody or Common fody, is a small bird native to Madagascar measuring around 13 centimeters. The species was introduced to other islands in the Indian Ocean, namely: the Amirantes, Comoros, Seychelles, Chagos, Mauritius, and Reunion. The breeding male is distinguished by its bright red plumage, black markings around its eyes and olive-brown wings and tail. In contrast to the Mauritius fody, its underparts are also red. The female bird, on the other hand is olive-brown and has greyish underparts, juveniles and non-breeding males have similar colouring.
The Madagascar fody commonly dwells in forest clearings, grasslands and cultivated areas rather than in dense forest. It survives on seeds, grass seeds, insects as well as other foods such as fruit, nectar, household scraps and copra. During the breeding season, the males become territorial: they defend an area of approximately 30 meters in diameter by singing from exposed perches. Males construct the first parts of the nest which will be completed by the females. This oval structure has a side entrance; and consists of small roots, tendrils, grasses and strands of vegetation woven together. The incubation period lasts between 13 to 17 days and the clutch size is between one and five eggs. Females are largely responsible for incubation and feeding while males defend the territory and the nest.
The species is currently listed as “Least Concern” in the IUCN Red List of species. Throughout its native habitat and where it was introduced, the Madagascar fody is abundant. It Is considered a pest by farmers as the birds do considerable damage during rice harvests.
The Madagascar fody has long thought to be monogamous; but recent research suggests that males may rear two to three nests at the time.
Rasamison Andrianarivelosoa Solohery & Andrianarimisa Aristide (2013) First breeding survey of the endemic Madagascar Red Fody Foudia madagascariensis and Forest Fody Foudia omissa at Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar http://www.senckenberg.de/files/content/forschung/publikationen/vertebratezoology/vz63-2/10_vertebrate_zoology_63-2_solohery_233-240.pdf