|Subdesert mesite (Monias benschi)|
|Respective ranges: brown mesite in orange, white-breasted mesite in green and subdesert mesite in blue|
The mesites (Mesitornithidae) are a family of birds that are part of a clade (Columbimorphae) that include Columbiformes and Pterocliformes. They are smallish flightless or near flightless birds endemic to Madagascar. They are the only family with more than two species in which every species is threatened (all three are listed as vulnerable).[clarification needed]
The mesites are forest and scrubland birds that feed on insects and seeds. The brown and white-breasted mesites forage on the ground, gleaning insects from the leaves and under them, as well as low vegetation. The subdesert mesite uses its long bill to probe in the soil. Other birds, such as drongos and flycatchers, will follow mesites to catch any insects they flush and miss. Mesites are vocal birds, with calls similar to passerine song, used for territorial defence. Two or three white eggs are laid in a stick-nest located in a bush or low branch. The Mesitornis species are monogamous while Monias benschi is polygamous and unlike the other two shows significant sexual dichromatism.
There are two genera, Mesitornis (2 species) and Monias (subdesert mesite).
|Monias Oustalet & Grandidier, 1903||
|Mesitornis Bonaparte, 1855 [Mesites Geoffroy, 1838 non Schoenherr, 1838; Mesoenas Reichenbach, 1861]|
Historically, mesites phylogenetics relations were not very clear and have been allied with the Gruiformes, Turniciformes and Columbiformes.
Recent phylogenomic studies support Pterocliformes (sandgrouse) as the sister group of mesites while some more recent studies place this clade with another clade constituted of Columbiformes and Cuculiformes (cuckoos).
|Phylogenetic relationship of the mesites within Neoaves.|