Order Passeriformes

Family Muscicapidae

Old World Flycatchers and Chats
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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).

  • 9-22 cm.
  • 56 genera, 335 species, 801 taxa.
  • 34 species threatened;
    none extinct since 1600.

Recommended citation

Taylor, B. (2019). Old World Flycatchers and Chats (Muscicapidae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/52322 on 11 December 2019).