Classification Historically, Mesites have been allied with Doves. The DNA study of Hackett et al (2008) confirmed that Mesites are a sister group of Doves and Sandgrouse.
Mesites (Mesitornithiformes) are smallish, near flightless birds, numbering only 3 species, endemic to Madagascar. Subdesert mesites are forest and scrub birds, gregarious and active, found in cohesive groups of 3-10, very rarely alone or in pairs. As described by Langrand, "Subdesert Mesite sometimes walks deliberately, head moving forward and backward and tail twitching donward, constantly changing direction. It stops for long intervals to probe bare patches of soil with bill. To escape sudden danger, one bird may decide to fly a few meters to perch on low horizontal branch". They feed on insects, small fruits and seeds. Other birds, such as drongos and flycatchers, will follow mesites to catch any insects they flush and miss.
The Brown and White-breasted Mesites do not behave gregariously. They forage on the ground, gleaning insects from the leaves and under them, as well as low vegetation.
Mesites are vocal birds, with calls similar to passerine song. Subdesert mesites have a characteristic alarm call, "a clipped nak nak repeated at quick intervals", which may help locate them.
Langrand, O. (1990): Guide to the Birds of Madagascar, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 364 p, p 151.