Harteman Wildfowl, presented by Jan Harteman

Passerine birds or perching birds (Passeriformes)

A passerine is any bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. A notable feature of passerines is the arrangement of their toes (three pointing forward and one back) which facilitates perching. Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds, the passerines form one of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders, with over 5,000 identified species. It has roughly twice as many species as the largest of the mammal orders, the Rodentia. It contains more than 110 families, the second most of any order of Tetrapods (after Squamata, the scaled reptiles).

The names "passerines" and "Passeriformes" are derived from Passer domesticus, the scientific name of the eponymousspecies (the house sparrow) and ultimately from the Latin term passer for Passer sparrows and similar small birds.

 

This list is in taxonomic order, placing related species/groups next to each other. The Passerida subdivisions are updated as needed from the default sequence of the Handbook of the Birds of the World (Del Hoyo et al., 2003), based on the most modern and comprehensive studies.

 

Suborder Acanthisitti

  • Acanthisittidae: New Zealand "wrens"

Suborder Tyranni

Suboscines

  • Infraorder Eurylaimides – Old World suboscines (or Broad-billed suboscines). Probably a separate suborder.
    • Superfamily Eurylaimoidea – broadbills and allies
      • Eurylaimidae: broadbills
      • Philepittidae: asities
      • Sapayoidae: broad-billed sapayoa
    • Superfamily Pittoidea
      • Pittidae: pittas
  • Infraorder Tyrannides– New World suboscines
    • Superfamily N.N. – "bronchophones"
      • Tyrannidae: tyrant flycatchers
      • Tityridae: tityras and allies.
      • Cotingidae: Guianan cock-of-the-rock and Cock-of-the-rock
      • Pipridae: manakins
    • Superfamily Furnarioidea – tracheophones
      • Furnariidae: ovenbirds and woodcreepers
      • Thamnophilidae: antbirds
      • Formicariidae: antthrushes
      • Grallariidae: antpittas
      • Rhinocryptidae: typical tapaculos
      • Conopophagidae: gnateaters and gnatpittas
      • Melanopareiidae: crescent-chests

Suborder Passeri

Songbirds or oscines

  • Basal Passeri – the most ancient true songbirds, endemic to Australia. Sometimes considered a superfamily "Menuroidea".
    • Menuridae: lyrebirds
    • Atrichornithidae: scrub-birds
  • Superfamily Meliphagoidea – mainly insectivores and nectarivores, distribution centered on Australo-Melanesian region extending into surroundings, notably the Pacific.
    • Maluridae: fairywrens, emu-wrens and grasswrens
    • Dasyornithidae: bristlebirds. Formerly in Acanthizidae.
    • Acanthizidae: scrubwrens, thornbills, and gerygones
    • Meliphagidae: honeyeaters
    • Meliphagoideaincertae sedis
      • Pardalotidae: pardalotes. Formerly in Acanthizidae, might be included in Meliphagidae.
      • Acanthorhynchus: spinebills. Usually included in Meliphagidae; might be considered a monotypic family if Pardalotidae are considered valid too.
  • Superfamily Corvoidea – a highly diverse group of global distribution, but most plentiful in the Australasian region and surroundings. The oldest truly globally successful group of passerines, they include among them what may well be the most intelligent and the most spectacular of the order.
    • Callaeidae: New Zealand wattlebirds. Tentatively placed here.
    • Notiomystidae: stitchbird. Tentatively placed here.
    • Cnemophilidae: satinbirds. Tentatively placed here.
    • Melanocharitidae: berrypeckers and longbills. Tentatively placed here.
    • Neosittidae: sittellas
    • Vireonidae: vireos
    • Campephagidae: cuckoo-shrikes and trillers
    • Pachycephalidae: whistlers and allies. Delimitation with regards to several proposed families and subfamilies requires thorough study.
    • Oriolidae: orioles and figbird, Piopio
    • Paramythiidae: tit berrypecker and crested berrypecker. Formerly in Passerida.
    • Artamidae: woodswallows, butcherbirds, currawongs and Australian magpie
    • Malaconotidae: puffback shrikes, bush shrikes, tchagras and boubous
    • Platysteiridae: wattle-eyes and relatives. Formerly in Passerida. Probably paraphyletic.
    • Aegithinidae: ioras
    • Pityriaseidae: Bornean bristlehead. Tentatively placed here.
    • Prionopidae: helmetshrikes and woodshrikes
    • Vangidae: vangas
    • Dicruridae: drongos
    • Monarchidae: monarch flycatchers
    • Rhipiduridae: fantails
    • Paradisaeidae: birds of paradise
    • Corcoracidae: white-winged chough and apostlebird
    • Laniidae: shrikes
    • Corvidae: crows, ravens and jays
    • Corvoidea incertae sedis
      • Vireolanius: shrike-vireos. Usually included in Vireonidae, possibly a monotypic family,
      • Erpornis: white-bellied erpornis. Formerly in Yuhina (Passerida: Timaliidae); possibly a monotypic family, possibly in Vireonidae
      • Colluricinclidae: shrike-thrushes. Often included in Pachycephalidae but perhaps recognizable as a subfamily at least.
      • Cinclosomatidae: whipbirds and allies. Contains Psophodidae but that might make it paraphyletic. At least some species belong in Pachycephalidae if Falcunculinae are not considered a distinct family.
      • Falcunculidae: shrike-tit and allies. Usually included in Pachycephalidae; might be distinct family or merged in Cinclosomatidae or Psophodidae[verification needed].
      • "Pitohuidae": pitohuis. Usually included in Pachycephalidae but seem closer to Oriolidae and best considered a distinct family including Oreoica and possibly other Pachycephalidae sensu lato.
      • Melampitta: melampittas. Two very puzzling birds of unclear systematics; the monophyly of the genus was long disputed. Maybe a basal offshoot of the Monarchidae, maybe a family of their own.

Passeri (mainly "Corvida") incertae sedis

    • Possible superfamily "Ptilonorhynchoidea" – bowerbirds and Australian treecreepers. Endemic to Australia-New Guinea. Two very dissimilar families, one smallish and inconspicuous, the other sizeable, usually brightly colored and/or conspicuously vocal, and with extremely unusual mating habits.
      • Climacteridae: Australian treecreepers
      • Ptilonorhynchidae: bowerbirds
    • Possible superfamily N.N. – logrunners and pseudo-babblers. Insectivores, endemic to Australia-New Guinea. Mid-sized and rather inconspicuous, wings short and round but tails well-developed. Plumage grey and brown with black and white markings, males and females look alike.
      • Orthonychidae: logrunners
      • Pomatostomidae: pseudo-babblers
    • Petroicidae: Australian robins
    • Possible superfamily N.N. – rockfowl and allies. Eat large arthropods and sometimes small vertebrates. Relictual distribution in 3 areas of the Old World tropics. Mid-sized to large songbirds with strong legs, adapted to move long distances on foot across rough ground. Males and females look alike.
      • Picathartidae: rockfowl.
      • Chaetopidae: rock-jumpers. Recently split from Turdidae.
      • Eupetidae: Malaysian rail-babbler. Recently split from Cinclosomatidae.
    • Possible monotypic superfamily Reguloidea – kinglets (Regulidae). Tiny forest-dwelling insectivores, found only in the Northern Hemisphere. Greenish above, whitish below and striking (at close range) head pattern of black and yellow to red stripes. Sexual dimorphism slight.
    • Irenidae: fairy-bluebirds. Reguloidea? Basal to/in Passeroidea?
    • Chloropseidae: leafbirds. Reguloidea? Basal to/in Passeroidea?
    • Possible monotypic superfamily N.N. - hyliotas (Hyliotidae). Recently split from Sylviidae. Basal to/in Passerida? Restricted to theAfrotropics, resemble "Old world warblers" but quite colorful.

Infraorder Passerida

Passerida incertae sedis – Rather basal Passerida, most of which seem to constitute several small but distinct lineages that could be considered superfamilies. Most occur in Asia, Africa and North America.

  • Possible superfamily Paroidea – titmice and allies. Might be included in Sylvioidea. Feed mainly on arthropods, seeds and berries. Widely distributed but absent from South America and the Australian region. Smallish round-bodied acrobatic birds, often brightly colored with large patches of yellow, blue, green, black and white. Males and females usually look quite alike.
    • Paridae: tits, chickadees and titmice
    • Remizidae: penduline tits. Sometimes included in Paridae.
    • Stenostiridae: stenostirids ("flycatcher-tits"). A newly assembled family; sometimes included in Paridae.
  • Possible superfamily Bombycilloidea – waxwings and allies. Included in Muscicapoidea if Sittoidea/Certhioidea are also included there. Omnivores but strongly prefer juicy fruit and nectar. Laurasian; essentially limited to the Northern Hemisphere. Mid-sized and typically fairly inconspicuous except for their habit of roaming around in noisy flocks. Plumage typically grey-hued and with silk-like texture, but many have a conspicuous black face and/or yellow ornaments; several melanic lineages. Sexual dimorphism slight if any.
    • Bombycillidae: waxwings
    • Dulidae: palmchat. Tentatively placed here.
    • Ptiliogonatidae: silky flycatchers. Tentatively placed here.
    • Hypocoliidae: hypocolius. Tentatively placed here.
    • Mohoidae
  • Possible superfamily "Dicaeoidea" – sunbirds and flowerpeckers. Might be included in Passeroidea. Eat mostly nectar, pollen and berries, supplemented with arthropods. Generally restricted to the Old World tropics. Plumage usually extremely colorful at least in males, usually a few contrasting hues (commonly including black and/or white, and usually including red) and in some with metallic sheen. Sexual dimorphism usually pronounced; females in most species greenish above, lighter below.
    • Nectariniidae: sunbirds
    • Dicaeidae: flowerpeckers
    • Possible monotypic superfamily "Promeropoidea" – sugarbirds (Promeropidae). Might be included in Passeroidea. Living fossils with a nondescript "honeyeater" or "warbler" phenotype, a Capensis relict lineage only found in Africa south of the Equatorial region. Include keystone species for fynbos and some Afromontane forest ecosystems. Sexual dimorphism does not appear pronounced, but includes many little-studied species.
  • Superfamily Sylvioidea - "Old World warblers/babblers" and allies. Generally insectivores, sometimes supplemented with berries; distribution centered on the Indo-Pacific region. Few occur in the Australian region and fewer still in the Americas. Usually slender and drab birds, few have pronounced sexual dimorphism.
    • Nicatoridae: nicators; have been classed as bulbuls in the past but appear to have no close relatives.
    • Panuridae: the bearded reedling; formerly classed as a parrotbill but seems to be closest to the larks.
    • Alaudidae: larks
    • Hirundinidae: swallows and martins
    • Pnoepygidae: pygmy wren-babblers; apparently unrelated to other babblers
    • Macrosphenidae: African warblers such as longbills and crombecs; a recently proposed family whose composition is still uncertain
    • Phylloscopidae: leaf-warblers and allies. Recently split from Sylviidae.
    • Aegithalidae: long-tailed tits or bushtits
    • Cettiidae: ground-warblers and allies. Recently split from Sylviidae.
    • Locustellidae: grass-warblers and allies. Recently split from Sylviidae.
    • Donacobiidae: the Black-capped Donacobius; previously classed as a wren but probably closest to the Locustellidae or Bernieridae
    • Bernieridae: Malagasy warblers. A newly assembled family.
    • Acrocephalidae: marsh- and tree-warblers. Recently split from Sylviidae.
    • Pycnonotidae: bulbuls
    • Cisticolidae: cisticolas and allies
    • Timaliidae: tree babblers
    • Pellorneidae: ground babblers
    • Leiothrichidae: laughingthrushes and allies
    • Sylviidae: Sylvia warblers and allies
    • Zosteropidae: white-eyes and allies
  • Superfamily Certhioidea – wrens, treecreepers and allies. Sometimes included in Muscicapoidea. Occur in the Americas and Eurasia, though mostly north of the Alpide belt. Distribution and the basal fossil Certhiops indicates the Certhioidea probably originated around the end of the Paleogene somewhere around the North Atlantic. Small, often tiny, tend to be conspicuously plump but nimble; many accomplished climbers. Plumage extremely cryptic or somewhat colorful, in the latter case typically blue-grey at least on the upperside. Sexes look identical or almost so, but may differ strongly in vocalizations.
    • Sittidae: nuthatches
    • Tichodromadidae: wallcreeper: Traditionally placed as a subfamily of the nuthatches and more rarely of the treecreepers, no study has been able to verify either placement this far. Thus it is better considered a monotypic family, at least for the time being.
    • Certhiidae: treecreepers
    • Salpornithidae: spotted creepers. Tentatively placed here; often considered a subfamily of the Certhidae.
    • Troglodytidae: wrens
    • Polioptilidae: gnatcatchers
  • Superfamily Muscicapoidea - "Old World flycatchers", starlings and allies. Mostly insectivores, near-global distribution centered on Old World tropics. One family endemic to Americas. Nearly absent (except introductions) from the Australian region. Usually rather robust for their size, most are quite dark and dull though Sturnidae are commonly iridescent and/or colorful. Sexual dimorphism often absent, sometimes pronounced.
    • Cinclidae: dippers
    • Muscicapidae: Old World flycatchers and chats. Monophyly needs confirmation.
    • Turdidae: thrushes and allies. Monophyly needs confirmation.
    • Buphagidae: oxpeckers. Formerly usually included in Sturnidae.
    • Sturnidae: starlings and possibly Philippine creepers. Placement of latter in Muscicapoidea seems good, but inclusion in Sturnidae requires confirmation; possibly distinct family Rhabdornithidae.
    • Mimidae: mockingbirds and thrashers
  • Superfamily Passeroidea - "finches", "New World warblers/blackbirds" and allies. Mostly herbivores including many seed-eaters but some specialized insectivores; near-global distribution centered on Palearctic and Americas. Includes the Nine-primaried oscines (probably a subclade). A very high proportion of colorful and highly sexually dimorphic forms.
    • Passeridae: true sparrows
    • Prunellidae: accentors
    • Motacillidae: wagtails and pipits
    • Urocynchramidae: Przewalski's finch. Recently split from Fringillidae; tentatively placed here.
    • Estrildidae: estrildid finches (waxbills, munias, etc.)
    • Ploceidae: weavers. Certain members of Ploceidae, such as the Long-tailed Widowbird are well known for their elaborate sexual ornaments.
    • Viduidae: indigobirds and whydahs
    • Nine-primaried oscines:
      • Peucedramidae: olive warbler
      • Fringillidae: true finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers. Possibly polyphyletic.
      • Icteridae: grackles, New World blackbirds, and New World orioles
      • Parulidae: New World warblers
      • Thraupidae: tanagers and allies, bananaquit
      • Cardinalidae: cardinals
      • Calcariidae: longspurs and snow buntings
      • Emberizidae: buntings and American sparrows
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