Passeriformes

Families overview for this order

  • Tiny to small birds with fine pointed bill, short rounded wings, very short tail, and rather drab plumage.
  • New Zealand.
  • Forest (especially of southern beech) and scrub, from sea-level to the tree-line; 1 species in alpine and subalpine areas, including screes and rockfalls.
  • Small to medium-sized birds with strong bill, short to medium-short tail and long legs, many with colourful plumage.
  • Afrotropical, Oriental and Australasian Regions.
  • Forest.
  • Small, short-tailed, largely frugivorous and nectarivorous forest birds, males brightly coloured, two species with long, decurved bill.
  • Madagascar.
  • Lowland to high-altitude rainforest, humid valleys in dry deciduous forest.
  • Small to medium-sized, arboreal birds, with large head and wide bill, usually slow-moving, many with strikingly patterned plumage.
  • Afrotropical and Oriental Regions.
  • Lowland to montane forest, open woodland, locally extending to cultivation and other more open areas.

Previously included in either Pipridae or Tyrannidae, both likewise occurring exclusively in New World; recent genetic data, however, indicate that it belongs with the Old World suboscines#R#R#R, being closest to Eurylaimidae and Philepittidae, and meriting its own family#R#R.

Previously included in Eurylaimidae, but shown to be more distant to the taxa currently placed therein than are Philepittidae and Sapayoidae#R.

Recent phylogenetic studies#R#R#R have led to internal clarification of family and its division into two subfamilies, Thamnophilinae and Myrmornithinae; subsequent work has erected a third, Euchrepomidinae (see below, Euchrepomis).

  • Small, diurnal birds with a stocky shape, short tail, short, rounded wings, proportionately long legs, and flattened, weakly uncinate bill; most with conspicuous white postocular tufts.
  • Neotropical Region.
  • Humid and semi-humid forest and woodland.

Previously included in Formicariidae, but DNA studies indicate that the four genera currently included herein form a monophyletic group, whereas current members of Formicariidae may be closer to some members of Rhinocryptidae#R#R.

Recent phylogenetic study recommends division into two subfamilies, Rhinocryptinae and Scytalopodinae#R.

Previously treated as including all members of Grallariidae and Pittasoma, but DNA studies indicate that the previous grouping was paraphyletic#R#R, and that the two genera currently retained herein may be closer to some members of Rhinocryptidae#R.

  • Small to medium-sized birds, most with short, rounded wings, often strong legs and feet, often long tail with minor to major strengthening of feather shafts; plumage mostly some shade of brown, ranging from greyish or blackish to olivaceous or reddish.
  • Neotropical Region.
  • All habitats.
  • Small arboreal birds of compact build, with short, rather wide bill, short wings and, except for males of a few species, short tail; feed mainly on small fruits, plucked in flight, and insects.
  • Central and South America, and some offlying islands.
  • Mainly tropical forest, a few species in scrubby woodland and thickets.
  • Very small to large arboreal birds, extremely varied both in form and in plumage, males of many species with brilliantly coloured or highly ornamental plumage; feed mostly, some species exclusively, on fruit.
  • Central and South America, including Trinidad.
  • Mostly tropical and subtropical forest, a few species in temperate mountain woodlands.

Varied assemblage of genera long considered taxonomically problematic, and hitherto scattered variously by different authors among families Cotingidae, Tyrannidae and Pipridae, with frequent separation of Oxyruncidae, sometimes a reduced form of Tityridae, and lately Onychorhynchidae; recently shown by several phylogenetic studies to form a monophyletic group#R#R#R#R. Family name Tityridae introduced in 1830, thus having priority for this assemblage over name Oxyruncidae, of Feb 1832.

Highly speciose family, herein divided into nine subfamilies (with ten tribes); recent studies#R#R suggest that the first four listed (Platyrinchinae, Pipritinae, Tachurisinae, Pipromorphinae) are sister to rest of family, and may merit treatment as 1–4 separate families.

  • Large, mainly ground-dwelling birds with short, rounded wings, long legs and a long tail.
  • Eastern Australia.
  • Mostly moist forest with dense understorey and some bare areas.
  • Small, largely terrestrial, highly secretive birds with short, rounded wings, broad and rather long tail often carried cocked, long and strong legs with well-muscled thighs.
  • South-west and eastern Australia.
  • Dense undergrowth in scrub, thicket and forest.

Traditionally grouped with Paradisaeidae, but now considered to belong among “basal oscines”, being sister to Climacteridae#R.

  • Small, rather stout passerines with medium-length slightly decurved bill, moderately long tail, and relatively short, robust legs with long toes and claws; plumage mostly brown or grey-brown, some more rufous, with paler underparts variably streaked, females often with some reddish colour on head or breast.
  • Australia and New Guinea.
  • Forest and woodland, one species in montane rainforest.
  • 2 genera, 7 species, 18 taxa.
  • Small to very small insectivores with long legs and long cocked tail; plumage strongly sexually dimorphic, breeding males with streaked brown or brilliant, largely blue and black, iridescent plumage, females duller.
  • Australia and New Guinea, including some islands.
  • Variety of habitats, ranging from tropical rainforest and Eucalyptus forest to savanna, grassland and shrubland, including arid and semi-arid areas.
  • Medium-sized passerines with long graduated tail, short and rather rounded wings, fairly long, pointed and stout bill with stiff rictal bristles at base, quite stout legs and feet; dull plumage of brown and grey with some rufous, variable pale spotting, streaking or scaling.
  • Australia.
  • Dense, low vegetation in heathland and shrubland to forest.

Internal sequence based mainly on findings of recent phylogenetic studies#R#R, with a few modifications#R#R.

  • Very small, plump passerines with short square tail and short bill, typically with loud but simple calls; some brightly coloured.
  • Australia.
  • Forests and woodlands, especially those dominated by eucalypts.
  • Small to medium-small passerines, most with short and rounded wings and fairly short tail, slender bill, a few with deeper and broader bill, terrestrial species with relatively strong legs and feet; plumage olive-green or drab brown, many species with some rufous, yellow or white patches, some also streaked.
  • Australasian Region and south-west Pacific, three species in Oriental Region.
  • Varied habitats, from tropical rainforest, mangroves and saltmarsh to dry woodland, heath and arid scrub.
  • Medium-sized, stocky passerines with powerful legs and well-developed claws, short bill with terminal maxillary notches, rounded wings, and rather short tail with stiffened shafts protruding beyond ends of feathers; plumage a complex combination of brown, rufous, black, grey and white, one species unpatterned black above and white on lower breast and belly.
  • Australia and New Guinea.
  • Rainforest.
  • Medium-sized, terrestrial passerines with rather elongated body, short, broad and rounded wings, long graduated tail with rounded tip, longish decurved bill, strong legs and feet; plumage rather sombre, typically brown, russet and grey, most species with distinct pale supercilium, one species mostly rufous.
  • Australia and New Guinea.
  • Woodland, shrubland and riparian habitats, one species in forest and secondary growth.

Previously included variously in Paridae, Timaliidae, Orthonychidae, Campephagidae, Sylviidae, Maluridae or Acanthizidae; in recent times, usually in Pachycephalidae. Several studies suggest it has no close relatives, and is best treated as a separate family, basal to core corvoids#R#R#R.

Relationships uncertain#R. May be sister to Neosittidae, but somewhat distantly related#R#R; traditionally placed in Pachycephalidae.

Present family-group name has priority over Daphoenosittidae, even though genus-group name Daphoenositta has priority over Neositta.

  • Medium-sized, robust passerines with relatively strong bill; many species very colourful in yellow to golden and black.
  • Old World.
  • Woodland, forest and parklands.

Affinities long uncertain: traditionally placed in Dicaeidae, and at one stage suggested to be aberrant Pycnonotidae, while Oreocharis was initially thought to belong with Paridae; more recently, both genera included in Melanocharitidae. However, well differentiated from all of these families in external morphology and aspects of nidification, and genetic analyses also support treatment as a separate family, with closest allies variously suggested to be Oriolidae, Psophodidae or Vireonidae#R#R#R.

Three monospecific genera previously scattered within Pachycephalidae, where no clear links were agreed; now shown to be closely related to each other#R#R, but nearest relatives of the group much debated, with proposals including Oriolidae, Paramythiidae, Pachycephalidae, Rhagologidae, Campephagidae, Malaconotidae, Artamidae, Cinclosomatidae and Falcunculidae#R.

Taxonomic position historically uncertain, and in past typically placed in a giant Muscicapidae, close to Timaliidae; there, it was grouped in a dubious assemblage with species now widely scattered in Orthonychidae, Psophodidae, Ifritidae, Melampittidae and Eupetidae#R. Genetic studies suggest closest relatives may be Paramythiidae, Psophodidae or Falcunculidae#R#R.

In the past, normally merged with Pachycephalidae; relationships remain uncertain, and other possible allies variously suggested as Cinclosomatidae, Psophodidae or Eulacestomidae#R#R.

  • Small to medium-sized passerines, generally with short broad wings, square-ended or slightly notched tail of variable length, most with sturdy bill with pronounced tomial notch and terminal hook, two species with bill laterally compressed and disproportionately deep, many with robust legs; plumage mostly various combinations of grey, black, brown, white, rufous, greenish and olive, some bright yellow below, a few streaked.
  • South Asia and Wallacea east to Australasia and islands of central and south Pacific.
  • Wooded habitats, especially rainforest, sometimes mangroves, also scrub.

Taxonomic position historically uncertain (see Cinclosomatidae, page 260). Genetic studies suggest closest relatives may be Paramythiidae or Vireonidae#R#R.

Internal arrangement heavily modified, based on recent genetic study#R, along with addition of Asian genera Pteruthius and Erpornis (see below).

  • Small to medium-sized passerines with broad-based bill, moderately long tail and thick, erectile rump feathers; some species brightly coloured.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa, Malagasy, south and east Asia, Australasia and western Pacific islands.
  • Forest, woodland, savanna, scrub and mangroves.

Formerly included in Pachycephalidae, and indeed long placed within Pachycephala; genetic studies#R#R#R reveal that the single species belongs elsewhere, being close to Artamidae and meriting its own monospecific family#R.

Incorporates Cracticidae, whose species now constitute subfamilies Peltopsinae and Cracticinae.

Traditionally placed in Monarchidae but amply demonstrated by phylogenetic studies to belong instead within a well-supported clade of African and Australasian families, among which it may be closest to Artamidae, Rhagologidae or Aegithinidae#R.

  • Small to medium-sized passerines varying considerably in morphology and plumage.
  • Madagascar, one species also in Comoro Islands.
  • Forest, scrub and thorn-scrub, plantations and wooded areas near forest.
  • Small to medium-sized flycatcher-like birds, contrastingly coloured, with rather wide bill, short legs and upright stance.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa; one monotypic genus in Madagascar.
  • Always on or near trees.

Traditionally placed alongside Chloropsis and Irena, all three most typically being lumped in Irenidae; genetic work has shown it to be closely related to Malaconotidae and allies#R#R.

Affinities uncertain; in past, variously linked to Laniidae, Sturnidae, Vangidae, Timaliidae or others. DNA analysis indicated close affiliation with genera Cracticus, Gymnorhina and Strepera in Artamidae. More recent DNA-sequencing studies#R suggest closest to Malaconotidae; close relationship with both Malaconotidae and Aegithinidae supported by subsequent genetic studies#R#R. Spelling Pityriaseidae (as in HBW) is erroneous#R.

Previously included in Laniidae#R.

  • Small-bodied passerines with long tail rounded to strongly graduated, fan-shaped when spread; wings tapered; rather broad triangular bill flattened at base and with small hook at tip, double row of rictal bristles, moderately long legs; plumage mainly drab brown, rufous, white, grey or black, or various combinations of these, two species with blue and one with yellow.
  • Oriental and Australasian Regions and south-west Pacific islands.
  • Forest, especially rainforest, one species also in open habitats and urban areas.
  • Medium-sized passerines with long tail generally deeply forked, some with terminal tail-racquets; plumage mostly shining or glossy black, sometimes with crest or elongated plumes on head.
  • Old World, mostly in tropical and subtropical regions.
  • Forest and wooded areas.

Relationships unclear, and in past has variously been placed in Orthonychidae, Eupetidae, Maluridae, Monarchidae or others, or in greatly expanded Muscicapidae. Now considered sufficiently distinct to be accorded its own family#R, perhaps closest to Monarchidae, Laniidae, Corvidae, Paradisaeidae and Corcoracidae#R#R#R#R.

  • Small to medium-sized passerines with broad-based, often deeply compressed bill, usually slender legs with strongly curved claws, some species with greatly elongated central rectrices; plumage variable, from modest to brightly coloured, often with rufous, grey, white or black, some species glossy blue.
  • Africa, southern Asia, Australasia and Oceania.
  • Forest and woodland, mangroves, lightly wooded cultivation, savanna.

Traditionally placed in Corvidae, but morphological study#R and molecular analyses#R#R#R indicate that it is distinct from that family; perhaps sister to Laniidae#R#R, and has been included therein in one recent work#R.

  • Small to rather large, slender-bodied, short-necked passerines with rounded wings, longish tail, bill with tomial tooth, prominent rictal bristles; plumage generally sombre.
  • North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
  • Grassland, open country, bushy areas, fallow fields, one species in forest.
  • Medium-sized to large passerines with strong bill, sturdy legs, many species with black, grey or black-and-white plumage, often with metallic gloss, or blue, green, yellow, violet or brown.
  • Almost cosmopolitan.
  • Almost all terrestrial habitats; many species in towns and villages.

Formerly placed in variety of families, especially Orthonychidae, Eupetidae or Paradisaeidae; differs from last in having downy nestlings and in not feeding them by regurgitation. Recently found to be more distinct and placed in its own family#R, apparently closest to Corcoracidae and Paradisaeidae#R#R.

Previously placed with Grallina in a family Grallinidae, but now established as a separate family, closest to Paradisaeidae and Melampittidae#R#R #R. Family-group name Struthideidae has priority over Corcoracidae, but latter has been formally protected, following application#R to ICZN; in past, both Corcorax and Struthidea were at times considered to constitute monospecific families, so both names were simultaneously in use.

  • Small to large passerines with stout powerful bill of diverse size and shape, several with long or exceedingly long tail; males typically ornately plumaged.
  • Moluccas, New Guinea and satellites, and north-eastern Australia.
  • Rainforest and other dense vegetation, a few also in more open habitats.
  • Medium-sized to large passerines with short rounded wings, relatively long tail, sturdy legs with unusually long tarsus, distinctive orange or blue fleshy wattle below gape, and robust bill; plumage blue, or black and reddish-brown.
  • New Zealand.
  • Forest, now mostly regenerating forests on offshore islands.

Traditionally placed in Meliphagidae, but recent DNA studies assign it to a family of its own, close to Callaeidae and Cnemophilidae#R#R, and/or perhaps Petroicidae.

Previously dispersed in other families, berrypeckers in Dicaeidae and longbills in Meliphagidae, but united in a separate family on basis of genetic studies#R#R#R; closest relatives appear to be Cnemophilidae, Notiomystidae and Callaeidae#R#R, perhaps also Petroicidae and Picathartidae#R.

Previously included in Paradisaeidae, but genetic studies place this ancient group as a separate family, probably closest to Callaeidae and Notiomystidae or to Petroicidae and Picathartidae#R.

In past, linked with Corvidae or Timaliidae, but genetic studies place it closest to Eupetidae and Chaetopidae#R#R.

DNA studies support close relationship with African families Chaetopidae and Picathartidae#R#R.

In past, normally linked with Timaliidae, but genetic studies place it closest to Eupetidae and Picathartidae#R#R#R#R.

  • Small, rather stocky passerines with large rounded head and rather big eyes, short to moderately long, straight, thin bill with upper mandible hooked to varying degree, some with broader, flatter bill, most species with moderately long and slender legs, rounded to slightly pointed wings, short to moderately long tail, a few with very short or very long tail; plumage generally olive, grey, brown or black above, often with pale wingbar, and frequently more colourful below, some species black, grey and white, a few taxa all black.
  • New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, marginally to west-central Pacific.
  • Most wooded areas, ranging from arid zones to rainforest.

In past, variously placed with Muscicapidae, Monarchidae or Platysteiridae, but differs in several respects from all of these. Molecular data#R indicate that it represents a very old oscine lineage with no known near relatives; perhaps closest to Stenostiridae, Paridae and Remizidae#R#R.

Members previously scattered variously across Rhipiduridae, Monarchidae and Muscicapidae and sometimes Sylviidae, but recent genetic studies#R#R#R unite them in a separate family, perhaps closest to Paridae and Remizidae#R#R.

  • Small to medium-sized, plump passerines with short to moderate-length strong bill, strong legs and feet, and short to medium-length tail; soft plumage varying greatly in colour, including yellows, greens, blues, browns, black, greys and white in patches, rather than as streaks or spots.
  • Nearctic, Palearctic, Oriental and Afrotropical Regions.
  • Most shrubby to wooded terrestrial habitats, from scrub to wooded savanna, carr, all types of woodland, and urban to rural parks and gardens.
  • Small to very small birds with sharply pointed conical bill, short to medium-length tail and relatively strong toes; plumage rather nondescript, but four species have bold head patterns and males of two others have colourful heads.
  • Africa, Europe and Asia, and one species in southern North America.
  • Open forest, waterside trees, reedbeds, desert with scattered vegetation, and montane forest.

Recent molecular phylogeny of this family#R—the most comprehensive attempted to date—has recommended novel arrangements for several species and genera, including the resurrection of a number of abandoned genus-group names.

Considerable genetic evidence indicates that this taxon is not, as previously thought, closely related to Paradoxornis (now in Sylviidae), but instead is probably sister to Alaudidae#R#R#R#R#R.

Systematic position long debated; traditionally classified within a broad family Laniidae based on similarities in coloration and bill morphology, or placed with Malaconotidae (formerly part of Laniidae) or with Pycnonotidae on morphological grounds. Analyses of feather proteins and early studies of DNA-DNA hybridization both favoured placement in Pycnonotidae, but genus unique in several morphological and other features (including nest structure). Recent DNA studies place it in a separate family, probably close to Alaudidae and Panuridae#R#R#R#R.

Recently delineated family, comprising Macrosphenus, Sphenoeacus, Melocichla, Achaetops, Sylvietta and Cryptillas#R; in addition, Graueria tentatively included here, but its affinities are still uncertain, as no molecular data published.

  • Small, mostly insectivorous passerines with rounded wings, rather long, often graduated tail in most species, weak legs and finely pointed bill; plumage ranges from cryptic in open-country species to brightly coloured among some forest and thicket species.
  • Africa, southern Europe, Asia and Australasia.
  • Forest, woodland, savanna, grassland, marshes and semi-arid to arid scrub.

Previously included in a broad Sylviidae; genetic data place this group as a family apart, perhaps closest to Pnoepygidae, with Locustellidae, Donacobiidae and Bernieridae as other near relatives#R#R#R.

Traditionally considered part of an expanded Timaliidae, but a recent molecular study recovered the genus Pnoepyga outwith the latter and well within the Sylvioidea radiation, although its precise relatives remain obscure#R.

Recently erected family#R#R; constituents previously placed in a broad family Sylviidae, typically in subfamilies Megalurinae and Acrocephalinae, as well as a few species previously listed in a broad version of Timaliidae. Internal structure, including addition and removal of various taxa, has steadily been clarified in recent years by series of genetic studies#R#R#R#R; several elements yet to be tested genetically, so some further changes expected. Previously listed as Megaluridae, but (as currently constituted) name Locustellidae has priority#R.

Sole species was frequently thought to belong in family Mimidae, based on large size, morphology (long tail, short rounded wings, heavy feet and legs), open cup-nest, and rambunctious and extroverted behaviour; in contrast, its well-developed social structure (duetting vocalizations and mutual display) is very reminiscent of some troglodytids, notably in genus Campylorhynchus, in addition to which anatomical studies argued in favour of placement in Troglodytidae; DNA studies, however, have demonstrated that it is an aberrant, Neotropical isolate “sylvioid”, that requires its own family#R#R#R#R.

Recently delineated family of exclusively Malagasy provenance, comprising taxa traditionally classified as Timaliidae, Sylviidae or Pycnonotidae#R#R#R#R; constituent species exhibit considerable variety of bill shapes, wing and tail proportions, and tarsus lengths, linked to their favoured habitats and diets. Prior to formal introduction of family-group name with current spelling#R, alternative spelling “Bernieriidae” was also used informally.

  • Small to medium-sized aerial-feeding passerines, with long wings and streamlined body; tail forked in many species.
  • Cosmopolitan.
  • Wide variety of habitats, from semi-arid areas to forest, often near water.
  • Medium-sized, slender-bodied, short-necked passerines with rounded wings, longish tail, relatively small legs, and medium-length bill, often with prominent rictal bristles; plumage generally sombre, many with crest.
  • Africa and southern Asia.
  • Forest, woodland, scrub and thickets.

Formerly included in a broad Sylviidae. Recent review#R indicates that previous internal arrangement, with all taxa of present family split between Seicercus and Phylloscopus, was paraphyletic. As a result some authors have split Phylloscopus into several smaller genera, with some movement of taxa from Phylloscopus to Seicercus, but accuracy of this debatable on present knowledge. One of these versions#R involves groups containing species as listed below: Rhadina (species 1–3); Abrornis (species 4–13); Phylloscopus (species 14–28); and Seicercus (species 29–78). Another version#R divides family into nine genera. More cautious alternative involves merging Seicercus into Phylloscopus; adopted herein, pending results of a comprehensive study currently in progress#R.

Previously scattered about within a broad version of Sylviidae. Recent genetic studies show these taxa to form a well-defined group that is probably closest to Aegithalidae and Phylloscopidae#R#R#R#R. The three subfamilies are sometimes recognized as three separate families.

  • Small to tiny passerines with medium-long to very long tail, short rounded wings and short, stubby bill.
  • Palearctic and Oriental Regions, with one species in Nearctic Region.
  • Forest, forest edge, open woodland, scrub, parks and gardens.

Previously considered to incorporate numerous other taxa, including some or all current members of Acrocephalidae, Locustellidae, Phylloscopidae, Scotocercidae, Macrosphenidae, Bernieridae and sometimes Cisticolidae. Earlier, this assemblage was grouped with Timaliidae (sensu lato) and Turdidae in an outsize Muscicapidae.

Genetic studies#R#R#R#R#R have led to considerable upheaval, involving internal rearrangement (including merging of Speirops and Woodfordia into Zosterops, and of Lophozosterops and Oculocincta into Heleia); addition of Yuhina, Zosterornis, Sterrhoptilus and Dasycrotapha from Timaliidae; and removal of previously included Madanga (to Motacillidae) and Hypocryptadius (to Passeridae). However, DNA of several relevant taxa remains unscreened so further revision is likely, for example of relationship between present family and now much-reduced Timaliidae#R#R.

Previously considered part of an outsize Muscicapidae, where was treated as a very varied assemblage including most members of current Pellorneidae, Leiotrichidae and Pnoepygidae, as well as some current members of numerous other families (e.g. Sylviidae, Zosteropidae, Vireonidae, Vangidae, Macrosphenidae, Cisticolidae, Locustellidae, Bernieridae, etc.). Recent genetic work has clarified true relations of many of these taxa#R#R#R; thus, Macronus, Pomatorhinus and Stachyris, as traditionally circumscribed, were all polyphyletic, so several rearrangements have become necessary. Nevertheless, many of the species currently retained (based on traditional usage) remain to be tested genetically, so composition and internal systematics of this family are still liable to refinement.

Newly accepted family, based on results of numerous molecular studies#R#R#R#R, and essentially comprising taxa previously buried in a broad Timaliidae (see above), with addition of Graminicola and Laticilla from Sylviidae and Cisticolidae, respectively#R.

Recently split from a broader Timaliidae. To date, traditionally recognized genera Cutia, Kupeornis, Phyllanthus, Turdoides, Garrulax, Babax (now in Garrulax), Heterophasia, Leiothrix, Minla, Liocichla and Actinodura have been recovered as members of a clade separate from those now placed in Timaliidae or Pellorneidae; however, Garrulax, Actinodura, Minla, Heterophasia and Turdoides, as typically circumscribed, have also been discovered to be polyphyletic. As a result, genetic data available to date#R#R#R#R#R (many species have not been screened) can be interpreted in various ways, permitting for a smaller number of larger genera, or many more genera characterized by fewer species, so listing presented here is provisional and dependent on additional molecular data for most of the as yet untested taxa. Family name has been spelt in variety of different ways; above is the original spelling, which is correctly formed and so must be used#R.

  • Small passerines with medium-long stiffened tail, short rounded wings, longish, slender, decurved bill, and intricately marked, highly cryptic plumage.
  • Palearctic and Oriental Regions, one species in Nearctic and one in Afrotropics.
  • Forest, woodland, parks and gardens.
  • Small to medium-sized arboreal passerines with short tail, short rounded wings, and medium-long dagger-like bill; plumage grey or bluish above, with blackish eyestripe, and whitish with variable buff, chestnut or lilac below.
  • Palearctic and Oriental Regions, with four species in Nearctic Region.
  • Forest, woodland, parks and gardens; two species in bare rocky areas, cliffs, ravines and gorges.

Closely related to Troglodytidae, based on several independent genetic datasets#R#R#R#R.

Genetic data indicate a close relationship to Polioptilidae, followed by Certhiidae and Sittidae#R#R#R, and support monophyly of present family, once Donacobius is removed; traditional linear sequence of species and genera, with Campylorhynchus listed first, now rearranged to reflect discovered phylogenetic relationships#R#R#R#R#R.

  • Medium-sized, plump passerines with short cocked tail, relatively short, broad rounded wings, slender bill with slight hook, long strong legs, and soft, dense plumage.
  • Nearctic, Neotropical, Palearctic and Oriental Regions.
  • Fast-flowing streams and rivers, mostly in uplands, occasionally slower or still waters.
  • Medium-sized passerines with heavy, laterally flattened bill; plumage dull brownish and buff, with contrastingly bright eye wattle and bill.
  • Africa.
  • Savanna and farmland with large ungulates.
  • Small to medium-sized passerines with slender to heavy bill; plumage coloration often black, or with brilliant iridescent structural colours.
  • Africa, Eurasia, Pacific islands, and north-east Australia; introduced in many parts of world.
  • Forest, grassland, scrubland, orchards, plantations, gardens, villages, urban areas.
  • Medium-sized thrush-like birds, with short wings, long legs and long tail; generally dull-plumaged, mostly grey or brown, some with white or rufous.
  • New World.
  • Second growth, open woodland, scrub and desert habitats.

Formerly included in an outsize Muscicapidae. Genetic studies show present family to be sister to a more narrowly defined Muscicapidae#R#R#R#R; in line with this proximity, many genera traditionally grouped herein have recently been transferred to Muscicapidae, although some placements remain provisional.

In past, traditionally treated as an outsize family that also included expanded versions of Sylviidae, Timaliidae and Turdidae; these three were subsequently split off as three separate families, but still in much expanded form as compared to their current treatment. Since publication of HBW, limits of all these families have been dramatically rewritten due to a barrage of occasionally contradictory molecular data. Within present family problems remain, particularly due to incomplete taxon sampling, but near-complete screening to species level has now been attempted for at least a handful of genera (notably Oenanthe and Saxicola), and large elements of consensus have emerged, among them the recognition of four principal lineages, here treated as subfamilies. Most notable development involves transfer of many genera from Turdidae to present family, including Alethe, Cichladusa, Heteroxenicus, Brachypteryx, Heinrichia, Myophonus, Monticola, Thamnolaea, Myrmecocichla, Pogonocichla, Swynnertonia, Stiphrornis, Sheppardia, Cossypha, Xenocopsychus, Irania, Luscinia, Erithacus, Tarsiger, Cercotrichas, Copsychus, Phoenicurus, Saxicola and Oenanthe. Genetic sampling has also revealed extensive paraphyly, with the result that many species have switched genera. Some genera have disappeared completely into synonymy (e.g. Erythropygia), and others have shrunk to just one or two species (e.g. Luscinia), while a few have become substantially larger (e.g. Cercotrichas, Oenanthe).

  • Very small birds with medium-long wings and tail, thin, straight and pointed bill, longish legs; general grey-green plumage coloration offset by pale wingbars, variably contrasting head markings, one species plainer-headed.
  • Nearctic, Palearctic and, marginally, Oriental Regions.
  • Coniferous forest, also mixed and deciduous woodland, locally laurel forest with tree-heath.

See Bombycillidae (below).

See Bombycillidae (below). Precise relationships to bombycillids and allies uncertain; further research required. Prior to advent of genetic analysis, suggested by some authors to be closer to Pycnonotidae.

Previously placed in Pachycephalidae, and earlier in Corvidae or Muscicapidae, but recently demonstrated, despite very different appearance, to belong close to Bombycillidae#R; here treated at family rank#R, but see Bombycillidae (below).

Closely related to Dulidae, Hypocoliidae and Ptiliogonidae, and over the years some or all of these have frequently been considered subfamilies of present family#R; recently recognized Hylocitreidae now placed in this group too, and likewise sometimes included in present family. Also belonging in same group is recently defined †Mohoidae.

Over the years name has been spelt several ways, most traditionally Ptilogonatidae, and very recently Ptiliogonatidae (see Ptiliogonys); but on basis of ICZN Code the correct name is Ptiliogonidae#R.

Sole representative of this newly erected, monotypic family was traditionally placed in Timaliidae (often in Spelaeornis); however, recent molecular study suggests it represents a relict basal lineage within Passerida, with no close extant relatives#R.

  • Medium-sized nectarivores with long, slender decurved bill, strong feet with sharp-clawed medium-sized toes, short rounded wings, very long tail; plumage brown above, more rufous crown and chest, yellow undertail-coverts.
  • Southern Africa.
  • Mainly fynbos and protea scrub in montane areas.

Newly erected family#R comprising three monospecific genera removed here from Timaliidae; recent molecular studies#R#R reveal them to be most closely related to Promeropidae, wherein they are sometimes placed#R.

  • Robust, medium-sized arboreal frugivores with short tarsi, and strong notched and nailed bill; spectacular structural plumage colour, verditer to brilliant glistening blues, set off by black or indigo, and a blood-red iris.
  • Oriental Region.
  • Evergreen to semi-evergreen forest in lowlands and lower montane zone, ranging to forest edge and, locally, to certain plantation crops nearby.

Sometimes included in Irenidae. Species sequence follows recent genetic study, which confirms some splits proposed on basis of morphology and suggests additional phylogenetic species#R.

Merged with Nectariniidae by some recent authors#R.

  • Small, slender passerines with long, usually decurved bill, some with long tail; many brightly coloured, most with some iridescence, particularly in male.
  • Old World.
  • All vegetated habitats.
  • Small, mainly terrestrial birds with pointed bill, compact body and horizontal posture; mostly dark grey or brown, usually streaked, above, paler below.
  • Eurasia.
  • Largely montane, mainly in alpine or subalpine zone above tree-line, or montane forest or scrub; one widespread species also in lowland scrub and gardens.
  • Small passerine with notched tail, relatively long and rather thin bill slightly decurved; distinctive plumage with prominent wingbars, male brightly coloured.
  • South USA and Middle America.
  • Open coniferous and mixed forest.
  • Small to medium-sized passerines with slender to heavy bill; plumage often yellow with black, or red and black, and frequently sexually dimorphic; many species with distinctive breeding plumage, some males with long ornamental tail feathers.
  • Africa, tropical Asia and Indian Ocean islands.
  • Forest, grassland, macchia, marshes and reedbeds, scrub-land, orchards and gardens.
  • Small passerines with short bill, short rounded wings, some species with plumage dull brown or grey, many brightly coloured and boldly patterned.
  • Afrotropical, Oriental and Australasian Regions and tropical Pacific islands.
  • Open grassland and marshy areas to open woodland and rainforest.
  • Small passerines with short, stubby bill, breeding males of most species with extensive black in plumage, some also with greatly elongated central tail feathers, females and non-breeding males mostly brownish and streaked.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Open country, from grassland to open woodland.
  • Small passerines with thick, pointed, conical bill, broad and mostly blunt wings, and relatively short tail; plumage various combinations of brown, chestnut, grey and white, most with some black areas, some also with yellow.
  • Afrotropical, Palearctic and Oriental Regions.
  • Open country, villages and urban areas.

Has been subject to significant genetic research, but taxonomy of many species-groups (e.g. Motacilla alba) remains uncertain, in part due to insufficient taxon sampling. Most authors maintain pipits within a single genus, Anthus, although genera Corydalla (type species A. richardi) and Cinaedium (A. lineiventris) recently suggested as suitable for recognition in view of current phylogenetic knowledge. Generic limits among Tmetothylacus, Hemimacronyx and Macronyx also require further attention. Most surprisingly, two species (Amaurocichla bocagii and Madanga ruficollis) long placed in Sylviidae and Zosteropidae, respectively, have been moved to present family, and found to belong in Motacilla and Anthus, respectively#R.

Forms three well-defined subfamilies#R, including Euphoniinae, previously placed in Thraupidae. Also includes Drepanidini, sometimes treated as a separate family (as in HBW), but here considered merely a tribe of Carduelinae. Extensive phylogenetic data available, and comparatively few species remain wholly unscreened; nonetheless, study of internal relationships has been confounded by recurring plumage patterns and use of similar feeding niches by taxa that prove to be far from closely related.

Previously included in Emberizidae, but found to be somewhat distantly related#R. Family name has been listed as Plectrophenacidae#R#R#R, but this name is unavailable; oldest name, Plectrophaneae, based on a junior synonym of Calcarius, has never been used since coined in 1890, and should not be resurrected (as Plectrophaneidae) to displace well-known name Calcariidae.

Precise relationships remain unclear. Traditionally included in Thraupidae, although sometimes thought closest to Mimidae or even Parulidae#R. Recent molecular phylogenetic reconstruction#R found it to represent the sole living member of an old lineage, that is well outside Thraupidae and Emberizidae, and sister to them and all the rest of the New World nine-primaried oscines, excluding Calcariidae. It is therefore separated in its own monospecific family.

Previously treated in much broader versions, which included Calcariidae and Passerellidae, and earlier also Cardinalidae and Thraupidae#R.

Formerly included in a broader Emberizidae. Recent phylogeny#R has recovered evidence of eight major clades within this newly recognized grouping: (i) Melospiza and allies; (ii and iii) Melozone, Atlapetes, Pipilo and allies, which form two sister-clades; (iv) Zonotrichia, Junco and allies; and (v–viii) all other species, which form a polytomy at base of tree, but can be split into (a) Arremon, (b) Spizella, Amphispiza, Chondestes and Calamospiza, (c) Peucaea, Arremonops, Ammodramus and Rhynchospiza, and finally (d) two genera that have often been placed in Thraupidae, Oreothraupis and Chlorospingus.

Previously included in Parulidae, within which was considered probably closest to Basileuterus; has also been thought most closely related to Troglodytidae or Turdidae. Molecular work has shown that this taxon appears not to belong in Parulidae#R#R; further research suggests that it is most aptly treated in its own family, probably as sister to Teretistridae, and these two may in turn be sister to the pairing of Icteridae and Parulidae#R.

Previously included in Parulidae but this treatment not supported, as T. fernandinae falls outside the otherwise monophyletic clade#R. Precise relationships remain doubtful, but appears closest to Zeledoniidae (see above) and sometimes included therein; nevertheless, not all results confirm this sister relationship#R, and placement in separate family may be best option on current knowledge#R.

Closely related to Parulidae, and the two may be sisters#R#R. Here considered to include Icteria (formerly treated in Parulidae), within its own subfamily; all remaining taxa are spread over seven major lineages, here treated as tribes of a second subfamily, whereas others have ranked them as seven subfamilies#R. Recent multi-locus molecular phylogeny of present family, on which present treatment is largely based, has further clarified genus and species limits#R.

Previously considered to include species now separated in Peucedramidae, Zeledoniidae and Teretistridae, as well as two genera now in Phaenicophilidae. The most comprehensive molecular phylogeny of present family to date#R recovered nine principal clades; almost all genera correspond to well-supported units, while two confined to West Indies are maintained based on other characters. Several traditionally recognized genera prove to be paraphyletic or otherwise unsustainable: Dendroica is abandoned because Setophaga is nested within it and has priority; Ergaticus is embedded within the clade occupied by Cardellina; Euthlypis is subsumed within Basileuterus; Oporornis is restricted to one species while its former congeners are removed to Geothlypis; Parula proves to be widely paraphyletic (two species move to Setophaga, the rest to a resurrected Oreothlypis); Phaeothlypis is indistinguishable from Myiothlypis; and the three Wilsonia are more correctly placed in Cardellina (two species) and Setophaga (one).

Recently resurrected#R for the two species of Phaenicophilus, traditionally included in Thraupidae, and expanded to include Xenoligea and Microligea, imported from Parulidae. All are Hispaniolan endemics that share olive upperparts, greyish underparts and a broken white eyering; they also group together genetically#R#R. Some authors also include some or all of the taxa currently constituting Spindalidae, Nesospingidae and Calyptophilidae; these taxa are probably each other’s closest relatives but appear to have separated in distant past, and are probably more realistically treated as separate families#R.

Previously included in Thraupidae. Recent genetic data#R place it instead in a Caribbean assemblage, and suggest it is sufficiently divergent to merit its own family, which is probably sister to Nesospingidae, these two in turn being sister to Phaenicophilidae (which see, above).

Previously included in Thraupidae. Recent genetic data#R place it instead in a Caribbean assemblage, and suggest it is sufficiently divergent to merit its own family, which is probably sister to Spindalidae (see above).

Previously included in Thraupidae. Recent genetic study supports treatment in a separate family, with closest relatives either in Caribbean assemblage centred on Phaenicophilidae or in Mitrospingidae–Cardinalidae–Thraupidae group#R.

Previously included in Thraupidae, but removed on basis of genetic data#R#R; subsequent molecular study#R places these genera together in a separate small family, as sister to the pairing of Cardinalidae and Thraupidae.

Previously included in a much broader Emberizidae. Limits and composition redrawn in recent years, based on extensive molecular work#R#R. As compared to HBW: Granatellus is imported from Parulidae, Amaurospiza from Passerellidae (part of Emberizidae in HBW), and Habia (now including Chlorothraupis) and Piranga from Thraupidae; at the same time, Saltator and Parkerthraustes have been removed to Thraupidae.

In past, included in a much broader Emberizidae. Probably sister to Cardinalidae, with these two perhaps sister to Mitrospingidae#R#R#R#R. Family limits and internal structure extensively revised in recent years on basis of numerous genetic studies#R#R#R#R#R#R. These have led to subdivision into 15 subfamilies, as well as numerous other notable changes (as compared to HBW) including: relocation herein of Parkerthraustes and Saltator from Cardinalidae, and of Charitospiza, Coryphaspiza, Embernagra, Emberizoides, Incaspiza, Porphyrospiza, Tiaris, Euneornis, Loxipasser, Loxigilla, Melanospiza, Certhidea, Platyspiza, Pinaroloxias, Geospiza, Volatinia, Coryphospingus, Rhodospingus, Sporophila, Piezorina, Xenospingus, Poospiza, Donacospiza, Sicalis, Phrygilus, Nesospiza, Rowettia, Melanodera, Haplospiza, Acanthidops, Idiopsar, Catamenia, Lophospingus, Diuca, Gubernatrix and Paroaria from Emberizidae (=Passerellidae); and also removal of Chlorophonia and Euphonia to Fringillidae, of Rhodinocichla to Rhodinocichlidae, of Chlorospingus to Passerellidae, of Phaenicophilus to Phaenicophilidae, of Spindalis to Spindalidae, of Nesospingus to Nesospingidae, of Calyptophilus to Calyptophilidae, of Lamprospiza, Mitrospingus and Orthogonys to Mitrospingidae, and of Habia, Chlorothraupis and Piranga to Cardinalidae. Generic limits within family also extensively revised, and associated sequence of species followed herein#R.