The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a family of birds of the order Grui-formes. The birds, which are 25–26 cm long, have an internal structure similar to that of birds of the families Rallidae and Eurypygidae. There is no crop, but the gizzard and the intestines are well developed. There are five pairs of powder downs, parts of which are covered with a powdery down.

There are two genera, which inhabit Madagascar. The genus Monias has a single species, the monias (M. benschi). The genus Mesitornis embraces two species: the white-breasted mesite (M. variegatus) and the brown mesite (M. unicolor). The birds inhabit dry forests and underbrush. They feed, much in the manner of pigeons, on seeds and insects found on the ground. The birds fly poorly. They nest in shrubs and trees at heights to 2 m; a clutch contains from one to three eggs. The monias male incubates the eggs and raises the chicks, which leave the nest soon after hatching.

Some ornithologists treat the family Mesitornithidae as a separate order.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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