Old World flycatcher
|Old World flycatchers|
|White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Melaenornis fischeri|
The Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae is a large family 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 centimetres in length. Many species are a 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
- Subfamily Muscicapinae - typical flycatchers
- Silverbird, Empidornis semipartitus
- Bradornis - 4 species.
- Melaenornis - 7 species.
- Fraseria - 2 species.
- Fiscal Flycatcher, Sigelus silens
- Rhinomyias - 11 species.
- Muscicapa - 24 species.
- Myioparus - 2 species.
- Grand Comoro Flycatcher, Humblotia flavirostris
- Ficedula - c.30 species (apparently saxicoline, related to Tarsiger).
- Anthipes - 2 species.
- Cyanoptila -
- Blue-and-white Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cyanomelana
- Eumyias - 5 species.
- Niltava - 6 species.
- Subfamily Saxicolinae - chats and allies (formerly in Turdidae)
- Tarsiger, bush-robins (5 species)
- Luscinia (11 species) - paraphyletic
- Erithacus (3 species) - paraphyletic
- Heinrichia - Great Shortwing
- Brachypteryx (4 species)
- 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 (1-5 species, depending on taxonomy)
- Xenocopsychus, Angola Cave Chat
- Saxicoloides, Indian Robin
- Myiomela (4 species)
- Cinclidium, Blue-fronted Robin
- Myophonus, whistling thrushes
- Namibornis, Herero Chat
- Cercomela (9 species)
- Myrmecocichla (7 species)
- Thamnolaea, cliff chats (2 species)
- Pinarornis, Boulder Chat
- Sheppardia, akalats (9 species)
- Cossyphicula, White-bellied Robin-chat - may belong in Cossypha
- Cossypha, robin-chats (14 species)
- Cichladusa, palm thrushes (3 species)
- Cercotrichas, scrub robins or bush chats (11 species) - possibly muscicapine
- Copsychus, magpie-robins or shamas (7 species) - possibly muscicapine
- Phoenicurus, true redstarts (11 species)- forms a well-supported clade with the following 2 genera placed within
- Chaimarrornis, White-capped Redstart - Paraphyletic with some Phoenicurus
- Rhyacornis (2 species) - Paraphyletic with some Phoenicurus
- Grandala, Grandala
- Enicurus, forktails (7 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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