Old World flycatcher
|Old World flycatchers|
|White-eyed slaty flycatcher, Melaenornis fischeri|
The Old World flycatchers are a large family, the Muscicapidae, of small passerine birds mostly restricted to the Old World (Europe, Africa and Asia). These are mainly small arboreal insectivores, many of which, as the name implies, take their prey on the wing.
The appearance of these birds is very varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls. They are small to medium birds, ranging from 9 to 22 cm in length. Many species are dull brown in colour, but the plumage of some can be much brighter, especially in the males. Most have broad, flattened bills suited to catching insects in flight, although the few ground-foraging species typically have finer bills.
Old World flycatchers live in almost every environment with a suitable supply of trees, from dense forest to open scrub, and even the montane woodland of the Himalayas. The more northerly species migrate south in winter, ensuring a continuous diet of insects.
Depending on the species, their nests are either well-constructed cups placed in a tree or cliff ledge, or simply lining in a pre-existing tree hole. The hole-nesting species tend to lay larger clutches, with an average of eight eggs, rather than just two to five.
Taxonomy and systematics
The division of Muscicapidae into two subfamilies may be artificial. Some genera in one subfamily are closer to members of the other and vice versa. As the exact relationships of the family's members are worked out, the internal taxonomic structure of the family may need to be radically revised.
Muscicapidae in taxonomic order
This list of muscicapid species is presented in taxonomic order:
- Subfamily Muscicapinae - typical flycatchers
- Silverbird, E. semipartitus
- Bradornis - four species
- Melaenornis - seven species
- Fraseria - two species.
- Fiscal flycatcher, Sigelus silens
- Rhinomyias - 11 species
- Muscicapa - 24 species
- Myioparus - two species.
- Grand Comoro flycatcher, H. flavirostris
- Ficedula - about 30 species (apparently saxicoline, related to Tarsiger)
- Anthipes - two species
- Cyanoptila - two species
- Eumyias - five species
- Niltava - six species
- Subfamily Saxicolinae - chats and allies (formerly in Turdidae)
- Tarsiger, bush-robins (five species)
- Luscinia (11 species) - paraphyletic
- Erithacus (three species) - paraphyletic
- Heinrichia - great shortwing
- Brachypteryx (four species)
- Leonardina - Bagabo babbler
- Irania, white-throated robin
- Saxicola, bushchats and stonechats (14 species)
- Monticola: rock thrushes (13 species, includes Pseudocossyphus)
- Pogonocichla, white-starred robin
- Swynnertonia, Swynnerton's robin
- Stiphrornis, forest robins (one to five species, depending on taxonomy)
- Xenocopsychus, Angola cave chat
- Saxicoloides, Indian robin
- Myiomela (four species)
- Cinclidium, blue-fronted robin
- Myophonus, whistling thrushes
- Namibornis, Herero chat
- Cercomela (nine species)
- Myrmecocichla (seven species)
- Thamnolaea, cliff chats (two species)
- Pinarornis, boulder chat
- Sheppardia, akalats (nine species)
- Cossyphicula, white-bellied robin-chat - may belong in Cossypha
- Cossypha, robin-chats (14 species)
- Cichladusa, palm thrushes (three species)
- Cercotrichas, scrub robins or bush chats (11 species) - possibly muscicapine
- Copsychus, magpie-robins or shamas (seven species) - possibly muscicapine
- Phoenicurus, true redstarts (11 species)- forms a well-supported clade with these genera placed within
- Chaimarrornis, white-capped redstart - paraphyletic with some Phoenicurus
- Rhyacornis (two species) - paraphyletic with some Phoenicurus
- Enicurus, forktails (seven species)
- Campicoloides, buff-streaked chat
- Oenanthe, wheatears (some 20 species)
- Trichixos, rufous-tailed shama
- Aberrant redstart, subfamily assignment not fully resolved
- Hodgsonius, white-bellied redstart
- del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Christie D. (editors). (2006). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 11: Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-96553-06-X.
- "Old World Flycatchers Muscicapidae". artfullbirds.com. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
- Perrins, C. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 194–195. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.
- Jønsson, K.A., and J. Fjeldsa. 2006. A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds (Aves:Passeri). Zoologica Scripta 35: 149-186.
- Lei, X., Lian, Z.-M., Lei F.-M., Yin Z.-H., Zhao H.-F. 2007. Phylogeny of some Muscicapinae birds based on cyt b mitochondrial gene sequences. Acta Zoologica Sinica, 53(1):95 - 105. PDF fulltext
- Outlaw, D.C., Voelker, G. 2006. Systematics of Ficedula flycatchers (Muscicapidae): A molecular reassessment of a taxonomic enigma. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution Vol. 41:1, pp 118–126. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.05.004 PDF fulltext
- Pan, Q.-W., Lei F.-M., Yang S.-J., Yin Z.-H., Huang Y., Tai F.-D., Kristin, A. 2006. Phylogenetic analysis of some Turdinae birds based on mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences. Acta Zoologica Sinica, 52(1):87 - 98. PDF fulltext
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