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More families to slot into place:

Tichodromadidae. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

Also can't find Paradoxornithidae or Panuridae

-> Paradoxornithidae. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

(they're not included under Timaliidae here as they sometimes are)
MPF 15:54, 1 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Families to slot into the passerine list at the appropriate place:

-> Furnariidae. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

No 'pedia entry on these, many of them may be non-families - i.e., leftovers from the many and various edits based on many and various taxonomies, including (no doubt) the odd misspelling or typo. Quite a few of them will be weirdo "families" from ITIS. On the other hand, quite a few of them will be ones we need to keep and (eventially) write entries on:


-> Dicruridae. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)


-> Dicruridae. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)


-idae. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)


= Acanthisittidae. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)



Sylvidae? Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
Sylviidae. If you do not accept that the latter is merged into Timaliidae, which a) should be vice versa and b) is debatable, solely resting on a perceived divergence of the sylviid-timaliid clade coincident with emergence other family-ranked clades that is simply inferred from assumptions on the rate of molecular evolution that may or may not be correct (frankly, I find the idea to merge the "core Sylviidae" into the Timaliidae inane given the absence of hard - i.e. fossil - evidence and really wonder why usually good and thorough scientists would seriously suggest such an idea, as it creates another non-informative mega-group, albeit an arguably monophyletic one. I think it is because the research has been conducted from the timaliid point of view, which naturally includes core sylviids with the timaliiids... but it is equally feasible to see it as some timaliids being included with the core sylviids. All that can be said is that the traditional Timaliidae are paraphyletic with regards to core Sylviidae.) Dysmorodrepanis 18:00, 10 January 2007 (UTC)


-> Artamidae. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)



Paraphyletic. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)


 Trenidae - misspelling Irenidae?

yes; apparently courtesy ITIS. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

Seem to belong to parvorder Corvida, superfamily Corvoidea
 Irenidae split by HBW as Chloropseidae, Aegithidae

Seem to belong to parvorder Passerida, superfamily Muscicapoidea:

Superfamilies not (yet) fully resolved; some of the initial suggestions paraphyletic. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)

Seem to belong to parvorder Passerida, superfamily Passeroidea:
Alaudidae: larks
Nectarinidae: sunbirds
Dicaeidae: flowerpeckers
Passeridae: sparrows and Australian finches
Fringillidae: true finches

See above. Dysmorodrepanis 08:08, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Leaving these out:
 Cisticolidae: covered under Sylviidae?
 Phytotomidae now part of Cotingidae

Family list is now complete (or at least, any passerine should be accessible thus). Removed disclaimer accordingly. Dysmorodrepanis 08:08, 28 February 2007 (UTC)


Clearly, an illustration is required here. The question is - which passerine? (Hey - it shouldn't be too hard, there are less than 5000 to choose from!) We don't have the luxury of being able to select any species, as we only have a certain number of photographs available, so the reality is we probably can only choose which family best represents the passerines, and look for a species from within that. I have quite a few decent pictures of passerines that I haven't used here on the 'pedia yet, but most of them are going to be Australian endemics. Indeed, quite a few will be ones where the entire family is endemic to Oz & nearby places. It would be better to have something reasonably universal. So - any ideas? Tannin

- I suggest some thrush species, such as European Blackbird or American Robin

if you want something universal, Am Robin is not suitable, since it is restricted to one continent. Blackbird is better since it at least covers much larger area. House Sparrow and European Starling have huge ranges, but largely through introductions. Discounting introductions, Barn Swallow might be a contender., 9 January 2007 (UTC)
Barn Swallow is good; most everybody who doesn't live in the desert, in the polar regions, on an oceanic island or in southern Australia has probably seen one. If it's agreed upon, I suggest a light bird of the N American subspecies, as to make it "average-looking"... the Nisqually NAR bird on the Commons for example. It does not look too different from the European ssp, while having a good dash of rufous.
If not the barn swallow, maybe the Common Raven - many people would be surprised that corvids are passerines, but they are actually more "typical" of the order than swallows, and "crows and ravens" are if anything even more widely spread than barn swallows. Dysmorodrepanis 23:24, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
If you are looking at groups of birds, rather than a single species, Emberizidae is even more widespread than Corvus, more species, and just as typical. 06:46, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
Yes, but all but absent from Africa & tropical Asia & Australia, no? (A strange thought that many people don't know them at all, given that some emberizid is probably among the first 5 bird species a human notices in his/her life in those areas where they occur... but it was the same when I talked about the Chaffinch to some N Americans and got blank stares... lucky I didn't try to discuss accentors ;-D ) Dysmorodrepanis 16:26, 10 January 2007 (UTC)


Can someone say more about singing? Like: frequencies, patterns, simulation of bird songs etc. thanks, --Abdull 21:11, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I have rewritten the sentence as to include a link to Bird song. Dysmorodrepanis 00:05, 6 January 2007 (UTC)


This article says, "...all of them gape in the nest as infants to beg for food", linking to altrices. Altrices says, "They include [...] many passerines." Either "all of them" refers specifically to the subset which are "songbirds and have complex muscles to control their syrinx", in which case it should be "all of these", or one of the articles is wrong/misleading. -Ahruman 09:24, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

Order of lists[edit]

Please note that lists in bird articles are in taxonomic order, placing related species/groups next to each other, and should not be alphabeticised, thanks, jimfbleak 05:22, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

jimfbleak, hello,
I stand corrected. I could not see that order level. My apologies for interfering. I will note the order being used so other neophytes do not make the same error... Perhaps a general note should be standard...
BTW, can you say more about the taxonomc order? How are they related (subOrders, superFamilies)? If they are in subgroups, where are the dividing lines?
mamgeorge 13:07, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
One problem at the moment is that DNA studies keep stirring up taxonomic sequences, and for many groups the information available is insufficient anyway (some plant groups are in fact listed alphabetically by default). All groupings are to some extent arbitary human artifacts, and as such can be a matter of judgement. The super/sub groups have their uses, but Wikipedia convention is that they are not used in the taxoboxes to avoid clutter.
sometimes the subgroups are fairly clearcut. The 300 or so hummingbird species fall into two obvious groups. A small number have similar male and female plumage, rely heavily on Heliconia and do not hold compact territories. These, the hermits are clearly different from the majority of the family, and the species list shows two subfamilies. In other families, the differences are less obvious, less well known and more debatable, and subfamily grouping is of limited value. jimfbleak 06:11, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Major taxonomic overhaul[edit]

It's about time to get a better taxonomy going. While the list seems based primarily on S&M (pun entirely intended) and by now is horribly unaccurate and what's more, never was complete, I think we need to collect some key papers here before we get it going, if possible accompanied by a brief discussion. I suggest we use this part of the section for discussion, and the subsection for listing the papers, in chronological order. Dysmorodrepanis 19:34, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

The papers[edit]

A word of warning: When reviewing (molecular) phylogeny papers, don't place emphasis on "clades" with less than 75% (in maximum likelihood - ML - and consensus trees) or less than >>80% (in maximum parsimony - MP - trees) support. They are often statistical artefacts. Generally, anything less supported than 50% in ML or 60% in MP is not worth bothering about until better data is available. Rather, imagine a polytomy. Producing polytomies is rather discouraged these days, so scientists will publish phylogenies that to the casual reader seem more robust than they actually are. Especially in molecular studies, taxon sampling often not very thorough: the "genus" Alcippe is actually 4 genera of which only 2 are reasonably closely related. Laughingthrushs are far worse still. Sample only 1 species per "genus", and you'll never find that out though... This, for example, is an outstanding paper that demonstrates how it should be done, but such quality is actually quite rare. Publish or perish... Dysmorodrepanis 07:44, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

A few of the changes now coming have been first proposed here.
  • Christidis et al (1996): Molecular Perspectives on the Phylogenetic Affinities of Lyrebirds (Menuridae) and Treecreepers (Climacteridae). Austr. J. Zool. 44: 215-222.
Morphology & allozymes largely agree but latter groups Menura with Tyranni (which is likely to be a LBA-like error I'd say). Sibley-Ahlquist puts both together with the bowerbirds the not so close relatinship of the latter and the birds-of-paradise agrees with what I thiunk is generally agreed upon nowadays. Their cytB data pits them in some lineage which also contains the bowerbirds, the BoPs as major lineages and Menuridae, Climacteridae and honeyeaters are loosely distributed thereabouts. I find this paper rather disappointing since a rather close relationship of these groups is virtually a given. Menuridae should be satisfyingly updated, but Climacteridae IONO. At any rate, to gve meaningful information the study should have contained Atrichornis and Corvidae and if possibly Acathisittidae and more honeyeaters than just 1 genus. Dysmorodrepanis 21:46, 20 October 2006 (UTC)
  • Frederick H. Sheldon, Frank B. Gill (1996): A Reconsideration of Songbird Phylogeny, with Emphasis on the Evolution of Titmice and their Sylvioid Relatives. Systematic Biology, Vol. 45, No. 4 (Dec., 1996), pp. 473-495 doi:10.2307/2413526
DNA-DNA hybridization, a first confirmation that there might be something wrong with the Old World warblers.
  • Cooper & Penny (1997)" Mass Survival of Birds Across the Cretaceous- Tertiary Boundary: Molecular Evidence" Science 275 1109-1114.
An earlier look at the KT boundary with a later origin of passerines. I never quite bought the two lineages of Procellariformes surviing the KT bit myself (which is why I left it out of Albatross. I will try and download some of these other papers over the weekend to read and think about. Sabine's Sunbird talk 07:26, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
What I have grasped from the van Tuinen (2006) paper seems to resolve the inconsistencies of this one. I remember that this here paper launched considerable debate, I think I read a biting response from one of the paleoornithol big'uns on it.
This was one of the major papers early in the current phase of the debate. It was far to sweeping, and given that 10 years ago when they did the research, the machinery and theory was crude. The van Tuinen paper see below.
Re Procellariiformes - I could try and do some paleo writeup on these. There are some oddities on the functional molecular level, for example trying the 2% rule is likely to fail (which is why it fails in Cooper & Penny, inter alia). Telomeres etc, the works. There was this strange phylogeny in "Emu" IIRC with inordinate lumping, which was literally ripped apart. Molecular dating is too far off without a good fossil record. Higher-level phylogeny's good though with DNA. -- Dysmorodrepanis
  • Boles (1997) "Fossil Songbirds (Passeriformes) from the Early Eocene of Australia". Emu 97:43-50
On fossils from Australia that can be determined as very passeriformish, but that's that. The fossil record of P.'s generally sucks; we have all the major lineages at least in pre-bloom but nothing really early. These remains suggest that P.'s were not very differentiated in the early/mid Paleogene, which would fit with a post-C/T origin (see comments under van Tuinen, 2006) Dysmorodrepanis 20:32, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Ericson et al (2000): Major Divisions in Oscines Revealed by Insertions in the Nuclear Gene c-myc: A Novel Gene in Avian Phylogenetics. The Auk 117(4):1069–1078. PDF
Passerida is by and large monophyletic (some exotic groups were not analyzed), but Passeroidea is poly- or paraphyletic. Many or all nine-primaried oscines are part of a highly derived assemblage that includes some non-NPO taxa too. One of the first ground-breaking studies, still leaves much to be desired as regards completeness.
  • Lovette & Bermingham (2000): c-mos Variation in Songbirds: Molecular Evolution, Phylogenetic Implications, and Comparisons with Mitochondrial Differentiation. Mol. Biol. Evol. 17(10): 1569–1577. PDF fulltext
Basically suggests a three-way split (acanthisittids, suboscines, oscines) and Corvoidea/Passerida dichotomy. Much more information is now available, so the remarks for the preceding paper hold true for this one too.
I have used this as the baseline for the systematics sectin on the preceding page. It is reasonable, agrees with the current state of things, and we can work from there. Dysmorodrepanis 08:08, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

  • Cibois, Alice; Slikas, Beth; Shulenberg, Thomas S. & Pasquet, Eric (2001): An endemic radiation of Malagasy songbirds is revealed by mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Evolution 55(6): 1198-1206. DOI:10.1554/0014-3820(2001)055[1198:AEROMS]2.0.CO;2 PDF fulltext
Say hello to the "Bernieridae"!
  • Masanao Honda' and Satoshi Yamagishi (2001): A Molecular Perspective on Oscine Phylogeny, with Special Reference to Inter-familial Relationships. Jpn. J. Ornithol. 49:175-184.
Cited in Ericson & Johansson (2003). Not online except abstract.

  • Have you read the following?
Ericson P, Christidis L, Cooper, A, Irestedt M, Jackson J, Johansson US, Norman JA. (2002), A Gondwanan origin of passerine birds supported by DNA sequences of the endemic New Zealand wrens. Proc Biol Sci. 2002 Feb 7;269(1488):235-41. PDF Sabine's Sunbird talk 05:47, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
In a nutshell and taking into account plate tectonics: Passerine evolution began in southern Gondwana. NZ "wrens" are an early (mid-Cretaceous?) offshoot. New World suboscines and the remaining lineages became separated as Gondwana moved polewards and broke up, the former distributing via S America, the latter via Australia and Wallacea (except the Sapayoa's ancestors). (Judging from this, Godspeed to whoever wants to scour the coasts of the Ross Sea for fossils of proto-passerines...) Dysmorodrepanis 14:24, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Ericson, P. et al. (2002): Systematic affinities of the lyrebirds (Passeriformes: Menura), with a novel classification of the major groups of passerine birds. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 25 (2002) 53–62.
Deals with the Menuridae and the "basal Corvida" of Sibley/Ahlquist. -- Dysmorodrepanis
  • If you want to include those, perhaps you should also consider:
Barker, FK, GF Barrowclough, and JG Groth (2002) A phylogenetic hypothesis for passerine birds: taxonomic and biogeographic implications of an analysis of nuclear DNA sequence data Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. B. 269(1488):295-308.
From the same issue as the Ericson et al. 2002 paper, this paper offers a much more detailed, quantitative distributional analysis, although dating isn't explicitly dealt with. A second paper by this group (see below) is based on much more thorough taxon sampling and includes a temporal component. Donacobius 23:42, 3 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Irestedt, Martin; Fjeldså, Jon; Johansson, Ulf S. & Ericson, Per G.P. (2002): Systematic relationships and biogeography of the tracheophone suboscines (Aves: Passeriformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 23(3): 499–512. doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(02)00034-9 (HTML abstract)
Another early paper by our Scandinavian friends. 2002 might well mark the year when they got the routine that led to their amazing output the following years: the 2000 Ericson paper seems fairly crude by comparison. Including as much data as they could sequence - notably, 3 nDNA sequences corroborated by mtDNA cyt-b. A methodologically interesting approach. Some biogeographical discussions too. Nice and thorough, and I think the results have been generally validated.
I especially like the part where they point out that the apparent distinctness of the crescent-crests had been anticipated in Wetmore's morphological study of 1926. One sees quite a number of papers these days where the "molecular weight" seems an excuse for skipping the background research (in this case, they had to do the research "on foot", not having the HBW volume at hand. It only came out the following year). A quite elegant study altogether.
By the way, this was indeed the "lost" reference for the woodcreeper-ovenbird merger. Dysmorodrepanis 21:31, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

  • Ericson, P. & Johansson, U. (2003): Phylogeny of Passerida (Aves: Passeriformes) based on nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 29 (2003) 126–138 PDF
The start of seriously dismantling the Sylvioidea Dysmorodrepanis 08:36, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Ericson, P. et al. (2003): Evolution, biogeography, and patterns of diversification in passerine birds. J. Avian Bol. 34:2-15
Review of the work on Passeriformes since the c-myc study in 2000. Dysmorodrepanis 04:51, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Garcia-Moreno, J., Sorenson, M.D., Mindell, D.P., 2003. Congruent avian phylogenies inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences. J. Mol. Evol. 57, 27–37. PDF
Not seen yet; found in discussion of Long branch attraction. Apparently discusses probable cases thereof. As we have updated research on the taxa by now, could be good to compare. Dysmorodrepanis 23:22, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Dyke & van Tuinen (2004): The evolutionary radiation of modern birds (Neornithes): reconciling molecules, morphology and the fossil record. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 141: 153–177.
Not mch of importance as regards Passeriformes. The authors suggest a Cretaceous origin based on paleobiogeography (which is the closest the idea actually has come to being supported by hard evidence). This seems spurious at first sight, but if one replaces "Passeriformes" with "near passerines s.str." it is actually fairly conventional (the divergence of the Coronaves into major lineages was almost certainly well underway by 65 mya, although the Passeriformes as a distinct lineage may not yet have emerged)
Van Tuinen et al (2006) should be a convenient update on this paper; the scenario presented here ahs been considerably revised and fine-tuned it appears at a first glance. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Dysmorodrepanis (talkcontribs) 18:33, 10 January 2007 (UTC).
  • Barker, FK, A Cibois, PA Schikler, J Feinstein, and J Cracraft (2004) Phylogeny and diversification of the largest avian radiation Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 101(30): 11040-11045.
This paper includes a simultaneous analysis of 144 passerines, and again analyzes distributional data quantitatively, addressing the timing of the radiation. The data unequivocally place oscine passerine origins in Australia, and the timing basal passerine splits and their extant distribution imply a Gondwanan origin for passerines. Donacobius 23:42, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

"This emerging phylogenetic picture reveals that relationships within Old World families are highly informative regarding the early dispersal and radiation of songbirds out of Gondwana." Indeed so. Dysmorodrepanis 10:27, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Boles (2005) Fossil honeyeaters (Meliphagidae) from the Late Tertiary of Riversleigh, north-western Queensland Emu 105 21-26 PDF
Another paper by Boles on fossil passerines, this one a free pdf from Emu. Takes some genera back to the early Pliocene. Sabine's Sunbird talk 04:33, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Van der Meij et al. (2005): Phylogenetic relationships of finches and allies based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34: 97–105
Apparently monophyletic, 2 clades: estrildine weaver and remaining taxa. Former split geographically, latter containing sparrows. Dysmorodrepanis 08:36, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Alström et al (2006): Phylogeny and classification of the avian superfamily Sylvioidea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 38:381–397
Basically just as the title says: a revision of the Sylvioidea. Sylviidae highly paraphyletic. and go the way of the "Muscicapidae" of old (i.e., Old World flycatchers + warblers + thrushes)
  • Ericson et al (2006): Higher-level phylogeny and morphological evolution of tyrant flycatchers, cotingas, manakins, and their allies (Aves: Tyrannida). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40:471–483 PDF
Families are monophyletic as per HBW treatment. Tityridae sunk into Tyrannidae, interfamilial relationships & oddballs clarified.
  • Ewen et al (2006): Systematic affinities of two enigmatic New Zealand passerines of high conservation priority, the hihi or stitchbird Notiomystis cincta and the kokako Callaeas cinerea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40:281–284
The hihi is closest to the Callaeidae, and they are not closely related to anything else as far as anyone could tell. Possibly a very primitive lineage. Taxonomically, the stitchbird should be its own family. Resolution/sampling are really not good enough to say anything about their relationship to berrypeckers or cnemophilines, but the former seems rather unlikely.
I shall remark upon this in the articles, but I will not yet change the taxobox without being sure that this is OK (does the ICZN have to formally publish "Notiomystidae" first before it can be adopted on WP w/o running danger of nomen-nuduming it?) Dysmorodrepanis 02:39, 2 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Fuchs et al. (2006a): The African warbler genus Hyliota as a lost lineage in the Oscine songbird tree: Molecular support for an African origin of the Passerida. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39: 186–197.
This deals with the crown Passeri, namely the Hyliota. Distinct lineage, so far so good, but what do the waxwings do hanging around in its neighborhood? I think the basal "Corvida" lineages are better resolved (starting with Ericson et al's 2002 paper in MPE). [1] is a good treatment of the "Passerida" break-up, for which see Alström et al, 2006. Dysmorodrepanis 08:36, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Fuchs et al. (2006b): An ancient African radiation of corvoid birds (Aves: Passeriformes) detected by mitochondrial and nuclear sequence data. Zoologica Scripta 35: 375–385.
Ties in nicely with the scenarios advanced in Fuchs et al (2006a) and Jønsson & Fjeldsa (2006a).
  • Irestedt et al. (2006): Nuclear DNA from old collections of avian study skins reveals the evolutionary history of the Old World suboscines (Aves, Passeriformes). Zoologica Scripta 35: 567–580.
Uses ncDNA, which is possibly overkill on the level they work at, but then you can't have too much data. Broadbills as conventionally understood are paraphyletic with regards to asities and Sapaoya.
  • Jønsson & Fjeldså (2006a): Determining biogeographical patterns of dispersal and diversification in oscine passerine birds in Australia, Southeast Asia and Africa. Journal of Biogeography 33: 1155–1165.
Sums up many of the older studies; mainly deals with out-of-Australia dispersal. Features the Corvida and Passerida as they are currently split. Sort of a continuation of Ericson et al (2002) dealing only with the early oscine radiation. Trans-Indian Ocean dispersal more important than previously believed.
  • Jønsson & Fjeldså (2006b): A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds (Aves: Passeri). Zoologica Scripta 35: 149–186.
Basically as the title says. Together with other large-scale surveys, this should enable us to make a nice family-level lineup. Some suggestions (such as placing the placing the NZ wattlebirds with the berrypeckers & cnemophilines, of sinking the core sylviids in the timaliids) need to be taken with an almost unhealthy dose of salt for various reasons to be discussed in the fmaily articles (in the two cases mentioned, dubious phylogeny - see Ewen et al (2006) above - and general lack of informativeness of resultant taxon, respectively)
  • Moyle et al. (2006): Reconsideration of the phylogenetic relationships of the enigmatic Bornean Bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39: 893–898.
And back it goes to the "strange shrikes" neighborhood - ioras, vangas, the works. As they too have been revised this year IIRC, I wonder how this paper compares with these revisions. Dysmorodrepanis 08:36, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Pasquet et al (2006): The fulvettas (Alcippe, Timaliidae, Aves): a polyphyletic group. Zoologica Scripta 35: 559–566.
Oh how I'd love to work this into WP right here and now - but it has to wait, because it can only be done together with the Sylviidae breakup (Alström et al 2006), because the "fulvettas" are paraphyletic even up to the family level. Interestingly, the only study that ever came close to the true state of things was an (apparently) purely morphological treatment around 1980. Dysmorodrepanis 17:10, 12 January 2007 (UTC)
  • van Tuinen et al (2006): Tempo and mode of modern bird evolution observed with large-scale taxonomic sampling. Historical Biology 18:205 - 221.
Mainly deals with higher-level avian evolution (CT boundary issues, "short fuse" etc). Concludes an "intermediate-fuse" model would agree best with current evidence: major lineages (paleognathes, Galloanseres, some basic "higher landbird" lineages present around CT boundary, but final massive radiation event (including songbirds) around Eo-/Oligocene transition. Dysmorodrepanis 18:04, 29 August 2006 (UTC)
It is pretty vague as far as dates are concerned, but it provides a good model of "layers" of radiation from 100 MYA til today.
As it is, the fossil record of Late Cretaceous Neornithes is fairly extensive, but it is hard to tell what they are. There is of course Vegavis, and the "Graculavidae". It may well be that the passeriform lineage already existed, but it was probably still united with cuckoos etc, and at any rate prolly looked like some mousey midsized tree-hoppers. Galliform birds OTOH probably were still around. As were Sibley's "Ciconiiformes", which should care for most of the "Graculavidae" by the way. Dysmorodrepanis 23:22, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

I think Ratites still is a major major problem. Everything else I see has been fairly resolved over the last 4-6 years, once you add morphology, geography, behavior, molecules and fossils. Dysmorodrepanis 23:22, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

  • Steven D Emslie. (2007) "Fossil Passerines from the early Pliocene of Kansas and the Evolution of Songbirds in North America." Auk 124(1): 85-96
  • James, Helen (2005). Paleogene Fossils and the Radiation of Modern Birds Auk 122(4): 1049-1054

Sabine's Sunbird talk 23:22, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

  • Groth, J (2000) "Molecular evidence for the systematic position of Urocynchramus pylzowi." Auk 117(3): 787-792.
Defends the spliting out of the Przewalski's Finch into its own family, Urocynchramidae. Sabine's Sunbird talk 03:13, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
Intra-Passeroidea relationships are a bit suspect: usually, nine-primaries oscines recover as a good clade and sparrows are part of de facto basal polytomy. Nonetheless lineage is distinct enough. IONO... it is 10-primaried, so would it technically not better be "Przewalski's Sparrow"? If it is a basal relict Passeroidea, that is. Dysmorodrepanis 21:47, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Voelker, G. & Spellman, G. M. (2004). Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA evidence of polyphyly in the avian superfamily

Muscicapoidea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 30, 386–394.

Somehow missed that one entirely. But it's in good Jönsson & Fjeldsa 2006b: starlings and mockingbirds fairly resolved (dedicated paper upcoming), thrushes are OK resolved, in flycatchers, the chats the only really good clade beyond genus, otherwise it's one vast savanna. Sampling needs to be looked into in thrushes and flycatchers.. Dysmorodrepanis 21:47, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Resorting the Passerida[edit]

I suggest that we start here to assemble the subfamilies. Give refs (see section above) as possible. Comment if necessary. Always try to compare doubtful taxa with as many others as possible (compare several papers)

We have 3 large superfamilies that can demonstrably be made monophyletic: Sylvioidea, Passeroidea, Muscicapoidea. Some minor lineages (tits and allies for example) might constitute superfamilies of their own. Branching pattern cannot be considered resolved at present (compare Beresford et al 2005 with Barker et al 2004 for example).

Superfamily Sylvioidea

A large clade with the apalines standing out as a recognizable branch in a de facto basal polytomy (Alström et al 2006). 3-4 major clades? (Nguembock et al 2007; their "clade C" is not robustly supported; for the time being, 2-4 additional basal lineages)
Possibly closer to sylviids - timaliids than to cisticolines, though at present these four form de facto polytomy (Ericson & Johanson 2003, Barker et al 2004, Beresford et al 2005, Alström et al 2006).
Taxon sampling so-so, there might be a dedicated paper.
  • Sylviidae: Old World warblers ("True/sylviid warblers and parrotbills")
Merge into Timaliidae? I'd say hell no, not as long as so many taxa remain unsampled (see Paradoxornithidae, Stenostiridae, Urocynchramidae, etc). Contains Wrentit, some "timaliids" such as true fulvettas (Cibois 2003, Alström et al 2006).
Paradoxornithidae: Parrotbills
paraphyletic?!? (see under incertae sedis below). Paradoxornithidae must be merged into Sylviidae in any case (Cibois 2003, Alström et al 2006)
Seems to be a basal lineage of timaliids (Cibois 2003, Ericson & Johanson 2003, Barker et al 2004, Beresford et al 2005. Alström et al 2006 found them more distinct but have small sample)
Might contain anything from and including Pycnonotidae (though I'd rather not have it to); see refs there
Newly split from Sylviidae; possibly basal lineage in a "marsh-tree-grass-bernierid-warbler" clade (Beresford et al 2005; Alström et al 2006)
Dedicated papers should be available.
Bernieria, Xanthomixis, Hartertula, Thamnornis, Phyllastrephus... Cibois et al 2001 group them with the cisticolines, Beresford et al (2005) with grass-warblers. Latter is more likely; higher support and better sampling.
Newly split from Sylviidae; possibly group with preceding two. Monophyly of genera and internal pattern needs investigation (Beresford et al 2005; Alström et al 2006)

Cisticolidae to Megaluridae may consititute a clade. Inclusion of bulbuls not too well supported at present. Clade possibly consists of cisticolid, timaliid and acrocephalid lineages.

Newly split from Sylviidae; possibly closest to Aegithalidae (Beresford et al 2005, Alström et al 2006)
Newly split from Sylviidae; (Beresford et al 2005; Alström et al 2006)

Cettidae to Phylloscopidae may constitute a clade, but de facto form polytomy with swallows and cisticolid-timaliid clade (and larks?) for the time being (Barker et al 2002, 2004, Ericson & Johanson 2003, Beresford et al 2005, Alström et al 2006)

See above
Basal in Sylvioidea; more likely than not very much so (Barker et al 2002 vs 2004, Ericson & Johanson 2003, Beresford et al 2005, Alström et al 2006, Fuchs et al 2006). Possibly much internal structure (Alström et al 2006), needs better sampling

Superfamily Muscicapoidea

A deep dichotomy between thrush-flycatcher and starling-mockingbird lineages (trichotomy if including dippers - see below)? (Baker et al 2002 & 2004, Ericson & Johanson 2003, Beresford et al 2005, Alström et al 2006, Fuchs et al 2006) Taxon sampling abysmal; I suspect that the OW flycatchers and possibly thrushes may soon follow the way of the OW babbler/warblers.

Superfamily Passeroidea

De facto basal (Baker et al 2002, Ericson & Johanson 2003, Beresford et al 2005). Possibly very basal indeed (Ericson et al 2000, Fuchs et al 2006 though support sucks), but may be molecular autapomorphy (see Fringillidae)?

De facto basal (Baker et al 2002, Ericson & Johanson 2003, Beresford et al 2005)

Sorenson & Payne 2001, Evolution 55: 2550–2567
De facto basal (Ericson & Johanson 2003)

De facto basal (Baker et al 2002, Ericson & Johanson 2003, Beresford et al 2005)

De facto basal (Baker et al 2002, Ericson & Johanson 2003, Beresford et al 2005)

  • Estrildidae: estrildid finches (waxbills, munias, etc)
De facto basal (Ericson & Johanson 2003)

De facto basal (Baker et al 2002, Ericson & Johanson 2003). Compare Ericson et al 2000 & Beresford et al 2005 (less basal than Passeridae, also Fuchs et al 2006 with few taxa and not well-supported) vs Groth 2006 (more basal, but monophyly supported weakly enough to wonder if artefact - also indicates splitting them might be a wise choice, but internal structure essentially unresolved)

To be sunk in Fringillidae? Groth 2006 supports Himatione as sister to Carduelis, but support not too outstanding. Molecular convergence due to drift would need to be excluded.

Apparently, these lineages form a de facto basal polytomy (also in Baker et al 2004, Beresford et al 2005)

Robust clade with Icteridae (see below) forming "thin/long-billed" NW lineage (Baker et al 2002, Ericson & Johanson 2003)
Part of robust "thick/short-billed" NW lineage in Baker et al 2002. More like basal trichotomy with tanagers and thin/long-billed lineage in ricson & Johanson 2003, but may be due to Emberizidae taxa choice?
Part of robust "thick/short-billed" NW lineage in Baker et al 2002. More like trichotomy with buntings and thin/long-billed lineage in ricson & Johanson 2003, but may be due to Emberizidae taxa choice?
Part of robust "thick/short-billed" NW lineage in Baker et al 2002

The thin/long- and thick/short-billed lineages seem to form a solid New World (as regards place of origin) clade ("Nine-primaried oscines" except Fringillidae, though this trait may be paraphyletic; see Fringillidae). None of the NW families were in Baker et al 2002 :O ; in Groth 2006, entire "NW" lineage forms de facto polytomy and does not group with Fringillidae but see there)

Possible new superfamilies

In Barker et al (2002), group with Paridae and together with Sylvioidea. Support so-so. In Ericson & Johanson 2003, would be distinct superfamily. Group with Muscicapoidea in Barker et al 2004 (so-so support) & Beresford et al 2005 (low support). Group with Sylvioidea but not Paridae (low support) or basal in Passeri in Fuchs et al 2006a

Related to waxwings? Not usually included in studies.

  • Paridae: tits, chickadees and titmice
In Barker et al (2002), group with Bombycillidae and together with Sylvioidea. Support so-so. In Ericson & Johanson 2003, would be distinct superfamily. In Barker et al 2004 group with firmly with Remizidae and and Stenostiridae (see below); entire clade groups so-so with Sylvioidea. In Fuchs et al 2006a group with nothing firmly (no Remizidae included), not even Stenostiridae. In Alström et al 2006, group with Remizidae firmly and weakly with non treecreeper-Passeri
  • Remizidae: penduline tits (sometimes included in Paridae)
In Barker et al 2004 group with firmly with Paridae and Stenostiridae; entire clade groups so-so with Sylvioidea. In Alström et al 2006, group with Paridae firmly and weakly with non treecreeper-Passeri.
Stenostira, Culicicapa, Elminia (Baker et al 2004, Beresford et al 2005)

Paridae to Stenostiridae may be another small superfamily; support varies from bad to good (Barker et al 2004, Beresford et al 2005, Alström et al 2006, Fuchs et al 2006a, Jönson & Fjeldsa 2006). All might be united in the Paridae. I'd rather not do that (I think Paroidea has already been proposed and is legit. Go figure).

In Barker et al (2002), de facto basal lineage in Passerida, possibly even Passeri; group once with Irenidae with low support. In Barker et al 2004 group with Muscicapoidea at low support. In Beresford et al 2005 groups with wren-treecreeper clade at low support. In Alström et al 2006 basal (myoglobin) groups with Passroidea (cyt-b) with fairly good support -> molecular homoplasy in cyt-b? Inside Sylvioidea but lacking support in Groth 2006

In Ericson & Johanson 2003, group w/gnatcatchers and nuthatches as a clade at mediocre support. In Fuchs et al 2006a, tends to lie immediately outside Muscicapoidea.
In Ericson & Johanson 2003, group w/wrens and nuthatches as a clade at mediocre support
In Barker et al (2002), group with Muscicapoidea at low support. In Ericson & Johanson 2003, group w/gnatcatchers and wrens as a clade at mediocre support. In Alström et al 2006, groups at mediocre support with Panurus based on cyt-b -> molecular homoplasy?
In Barker et al (2002), group with Muscicapoidea at low support. In Barker et al 2004 and Alström et al 2006, somewhat less resolved (basal-ish) than surrounding taxa; probably somewhat closer to Sittidae (supported by Beresford et al 2005 which lacks gnatcatchers however)

Troglodytidae to Certhiidae (and the next 2-3?) may be another small superfamily; support mediocre to good (Ericson & Johanson 2003, Beresford et al 2005, Alström et al 2006). Group with Muscicapoidea in Barker et al 2004, Fuchs et al 2006a, but support so-so.

Apparently close to nuthatches (and treecreepers?) (source: HBW?)
Check HBW for inclusion in studies. Subfamily of Certhiidae?
Has been allied with treecreepers (treecreeper-nuthatch clade?) or "OW babblers" (which group?). Check HBW for inclusion in studies.

Promerops, Modulatrix, Arcanator. Passerida? ("Corvida" according to Sibley and Ahlquist 1990?) Distinct (fairly basal) superfamily? (Barker et al 2004, Beresford et al 2005, but monophyly not supported by Fuchs et al 2006a)

Newly split from Sylviidae. Groups firmly with Promeropidae once, otherwise basal in Paserida; might be monotypic superfamily (Fuchs et al 2006a)

A robust clade in Baker et al 2002 and de facto basal in Passerida. In Ericson & Johanson 2003, Baker et al 2004, Beresford et al 2005 still distinct, but basal position to Passeroidea more strongly supported.

Possible new infraorders

Basal to Passerida/in Passeri? Probably de facto latter, as support for former is rather weak (Baker et al 2002, 2004, Ericson & Johanson 2003, Beresford et al 2005, Fuchs et al 2006a)
Newly split from Turdidae. Sometimes in Picathartidae; probably close allies (Ericson & Johanson 2003, Beresford et al 2005). Apparently rather basal in Passeriformes but groups with Paridae-Remizidae once in Alström et al 2006, in the process weakening support for this universally-accepted clade -> molecular homoplasy in cyt-b almost certain

Meliphagoidea ("Corvida"?) Basal to Passerida? (Baker et al 2004, Beresford et al 2005)? All about the place though not in Passerida proper in Fuchs et al 2006a - probably de facto basal lineage in Passeri. Groups with "core Corvoidea" and Melanocharitidae in Baker et al 2002, but support almost non-existent.

Groups with cnemophilines and wattlebirds in Baker et al 2004, though support is close to abysmal and these might represent 3 quite independent and very ancient lineages.

Taxa incertae sedis

  • Panurus biarmicus
Sylvioidea? Does not group with Paradoxornithidae in Alström et al 2006. Groups with Alaudia: Ericson & Johanson 2003 & Fuchs et al 2006a; with Alaudidae or Sitta, Alström et al 2006. Possibly Alaudidae(?) - support often robust but seems to depend much on choice of taxa and method, and grouping with basal lineages is suspect. Dedicated study needed.
  • "African warblers"
Almost certainly Sylvioidea. Sylvietta, Melocichla, Achaetops, Sphenoeacus, Macrosphenus... (Beresford et al 2005 & Alström et al 2006, but not found by Fuchs et al 2006a (sampling across antire Passerida) & Nguembock et al 2007 (Sylvioidea subgroup sampling). Support for monophyly not unequivocal; fairly basal lineage of Sylvioidea?
  • Nicator
Probably Sylvioidea; relationships undetermined (Beresford et al 2005, Fuchs et al 2006a). Dedicated study needed.
Probably Sylvioidea. Fairly likely to be basal in the Cisticolidae to Megaluridae clade or closer to acrocephalid group (Alström et al 2006)
Muscicapoidea, fairly basal lineage? (Barker et al 2002, 2004, Ericson & Johanson 2003, Beresford et al 2005, Fuchs et al 2006a)
Almost certainly Passeroidea. Apparently paraphyletic with some "pan-Emberizidae". Family sunk and species now incertae sedis according to AOU; further treatment unknown. Family might be valid and receive more taxa (again?)
Passeroidea? Arguably, just outside (Groth 2006). Not that I would advocate it. I wonder: would their Passeroidea clade be better supported if one threw out the sunbird/flowerpecker clade? (For the fun of it, I'd also like to see Urocynchramidae slug it out for basalmost position against Peucedramidae in a solidly-rooted Passeroidea... ;-) )
"Corvida"? What would they do in the "Corvida"? S&A 1990? Or did I, absent-mindedly, throw them there? My bad. Dysmorodrepanis 05:53, 22 April 2007 (UTC) -> Passeroidea, quite close to Parulidae? (Ericson et al 2000, Baker et al 2002)
Group with flowerpecker-sunbird clade once and fairly basal in Passerida (though closer to Passeroidea) in Barker et al 2002. More or less well-supported clade with Irenidae in fairly basal position in Passerida in Beresford et al 2005
Passeri? Group with Regulus once (low support) and fairly basal in Passerida (though closer to Passeroidea) once in Barker et al 2002. Basal to Passeriodea (low support) in Baker et al 2004. More or less well-supported clade with Chloropseidae in fairly basal position in Passerida in Beresford et al 2005
At least Paramythia seems to be close to Oriolidae, in "Corvida" (Baker et al 2004)
Probably "Corvida" (Moyle et al 2006, Fuchs et al 2006b)
Probably "Corvida" (Fuchs et al 2006b)

Dysmorodrepanis 05:53, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Rhabdornithidae: Philippine creepers[edit]

Starlings apparently!! See (Zuccon, D., Cibois, A., Pasquet, E. & Ericson, P.G.P. Nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data reveal the major lineages of starlings, mynas and related taxa. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, pp. 333-344.) at Also note here the non-monophyly of Sturnus, Cinnyricinclus and Lamprotornis which will need to be tackled at some point.--Deargan 13:48, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

I am now looking over the paper, and their findings seem good. I like the biogeographical discussion; of course the divergence times are uncalibtated and pure guesstimates (maximum divergence times I'd say, considering few if any extant bird families predate the Grande Coupure). Also, the inclusion of waxwings and especially kinglets in the Muscicapoidea is not supported by other studies with more comprehensive outgroups. Taxon sampling in the critical bits is so poor that no conclusions beyond simply stating the facts, as they do, is possible ATM (Expect a thorough molecular phylogeny of the Afro-Palearctic clade early next year I should say... hopefully earlier) - I cannot think of any good reason suggesting that the controversial bits are an artefact.
I shall compare this to other papers of the list (as per the Zool.Scripta supertree) and see if any more information can be gleaned.
FWIW, the biogeography of thrashers as basal mimids at this point very strongly suggests a (South)East Asian origin for the starling-mimid-Phil creeper group.
This would make oxpeckers a living fossil! I bet nobody would ever have dreamed of that! Dysmorodrepanis 10:18, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
I've reworded my change so to make it a bit more ambiguous. Figure 1 is interesting - here it seems that you get the Phil creepers included in the starlings proper only at the price of losing support for Sturnidae monophyly. In addition, sampling of the most important taxa regarding this question is still pending, and from a first glance, the Cibois/Cracraft 2004 paper does not robustly support inclusion in the Sturnidae. In any case, they are not close to treecreepers, that at least is as good as certain. Dysmorodrepanis 13:23, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
Only Cibois/Cracraft test a sylvioid placement, and only weakly - their outgroup has Sylvia which groups together with Hirundo(?!). As puzzling as this is, I have not added a superfamily to the Phil creepers taxobox because things being as they are, a "timaliid" relationship cannot be safely ruled out with the data at hand. Gotta read Greenway's original family description. Dysmorodrepanis 13:32, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Cardinalidae: cardinals[edit]

A while back I emailed one of the researchers working on the monumental task of sorting out the New World 9-primaries for information regarding this group. From what he told me there's still a bit of shuffling to be done with some genera leaving and others coming in. All this was just pers. comm. so not verifiable which is frustrating as I'd like to update the page. Just have to wait until he publishes.

--Deargan 14:47, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

You can start off with tanagers to see which cardinal genera go there and vice versa. Dysmorodrepanis 21:03, 17 May 2007 (UTC)
Hi D. He pretty much stated exactly who goes with who. Crystal clear as to what should be in Cardinalidae and certain which are tanagers, though clade placement he's leaving to another researcher specialising in that group. See F.K.Barkers webpage, there appears to be a big ongoing collaboration to do a comprehensive job on the NW9Ps - I can't wait! Stuff already published though I need to look up the references - Saltators are tanagers, and chats Granatellus are cardinals. For the rest I'll wait until the paper is published, I've no desire to steal anyones thunder. Deargan 01:15, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Drepanididae: Hawaiian honeycreepers[edit]

Are poster abstracts citable? See (Groth, J.G. 1998. Molecular phylogeny of the cardueline finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers. in: Adams, N.J. & Slotow, R.H. (eds) Proc. 22 Int. Ornithol. Congr., Durban. Ostrich 69: 401). This abstract speaks of 10 relatively well resolved clades of carduelines (inc. Drepanidines as one of them). The deepest nodes of the fringillidae were Fringilla at the base followed by a hawfinch clade. Drepanidae would therefore be paraphyletic with regard to parts of Carduelinae. With another poster abstract in Journal fur Ornithologie on finch phylogeny leaving lots of little tantalising hints of polyphyly and paraphyly, and both abstracts dealing with what must have been a pretty comprehensive survey of the family its odd that the author hasn't so far published a paper. Maybe he has and I've missed it! Please let me know.

--Deargan 14:47, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

I'll have a hunt later. Conference proceedings and even conference poster abstracts do on occasion get cited. Not ideal though. Great work finding those papers, looks like plenty of other interesting stuff to look at on the starling abstract paper page. Philippine creepers and starlings, huh? Who'da thunk? Sabine's Sunbird talk 19:56, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Here's the abstracts mentioned above:
Groth, J. G. 1994. A mitochondrial cytochrome b phylogeny of cardueline finches. Journal für Ornithologie, 135: 31.
Groth, J. G. 1998. Molecular phylogeny of the cardueline finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers. Ostrich, 69: 401.
I found one of these cited in a papers references so what the hell! I'm going to pop them on some appropriate pages for interested folk. They're well worth a read as much for what they hint at as what's stated. Deargan 19:41, 17 May 2007 (UTC)
Mh, 199s-vintage studies are not that optimal. Referring to last year's supertree doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2006.00221.x, the drepanidines are one of the finch clades next to true finches + euphonias and carduelines. They are monophyletic; it's the Fringillidae that are paraphyletic with respect to the drepanidines. Make 'em Drepanidinae and away go all problems. Dysmorodrepanis 21:01, 17 May 2007 (UTC)
So move them to subfamily status? Based on total evidence, this seems the thing to do. Dysmorodrepanis 13:49, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
Yup I agree, though the folks who wish to emphasise their distinctiveness for various reasons might disagree, perhaps not wanting them to be 'downgraded' to just another bunch of finches. Personally I reckon superb birds like the 'I'iwi and 'Akiapola'au etc could never be diminished by a change in familial status. On the other hand the use of subfamilies at all in the trad. Fringillidae troubles me. Aviculturalists regularly produce hybrids of captive finches and I've seen photos of some weird combinations including things like Redpoll x Chaffinch (across a subfamily divide!). Could you imagine that being achieved between a laughingthrush and a whitethroat, or a gull and a tern? The whole family badly needs a comprehensive study including as many taxa as possible. Chaffinches and 'typical' carduelines are separated most importantly by differences in breeding behaviour, but there are some atypical carduelines with characteristics of both groups. Its not up to me but perhaps a collection of tribes would be better? Deargan 11:32, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Broadbills, Asities and Sapayoa[edit]

In addition to Irestedt et al. (2006): Nuclear DNA from old collections of avian study skins reveals the evolutionary history of the Old World suboscines (Aves, Passeriformes). Zoologica Scripta 35: 567–580. theer is also this paper,

  • Moyle, R.G., R.T. Chesser, R.O. Prum, P. Schikler, and J. Cracraft. 2006. Phylogeny and evolutionary history of Old World suboscine birds (Aves: Eurylaimides). Amer. Mus. Novitates 3544: 1-22.

...which also concludes that the broadbills are paraphyletic. Sabine's Sunbird talk 01:37, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

AOU 2007 meeting abstracts[edit]

Just found this - Some interesting bird phylogeny stuff. Can't use any of it yet but a good early peek at what's in the pipeline. Some highlights:

It's here now: [2].
  • Say "silky-flycatcher" instead of "waxwing" regarding Moho and Chaetoptila, then it becomes more obvious ;-)
  • Say "clade(?)" not "assemblage" to the 9PO's :-D
If I get such abstracts, I usually tweak the article text to say something along the lines of "apparently" or "seem to" or "preliminary studies/results suggest" or "might well be" etc, and refer to the abstract. This will make it easier to incorporate the research when it's properly published. (The rationale being that when the scientific side is clearly undergoing a change of opinion, the encyclopedic side can do worse than being equivocal and a bit vague) Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 14:56, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Question re: early divergences[edit]

I'm wondering if the sentence

  • The initial split was between the Tyranni, the ancestors of the songbirds, the Eurylaimides and the New Zealand "wrens"

is correct? Instead shouldn't it read

  • The initial split was between the Tyranni, the ancestors of the songbirds, and the New Zealand "wrens"

Is the Eurylaimides not the result of a subsequent split within the Tyranni? Also, why do we say "the ancestors of the songbirds" rather than just "the Passeri"? SP-KP (talk) 00:32, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

It appears as if there was a roughly synchronous 4-way split; the Eurylaimides are presently more likely than not bound to become Eurylaimi again (this will be put on the Eurylaimides page). Judging just from the way I phrased it without looking up the sources, it seems as if they actually found the broadbills to clade with Passeri rather than with Tyranni(des) more often than not, but by no means markedly more often or reliably so.
About "the ancestors..." - we don't say it, I (IIRC) wrote it thus without any real reason except whim of the moment ;D. Your version is just as correct and probably better (clearer) so I have changed it. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 01:08, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

Other characteristics[edit]

Are there other characteristics that all passerines have? Short necks, fairly short legs, forage diurnally (though some sing at night), no polyandry or females bigger than males? —JerryFriedman (Talk) 22:49, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

No marine ones, only one aquatic family (the dippers). Overall quite small? Sabine's Sunbird talk 22:51, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
How aquatic are the cinclodes? Small is already in there. Are your suggestions instead of mine or in addition? —JerryFriedman (Talk) 23:34, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Just in addition. Don't know about cinclodes but I'm guessing they are confined to riverine and wetland habitats but don't feed in the water. Sabine's Sunbird talk 23:43, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
That seems to be true [3] (fee required, which for some reason I paid so I could see other articles). So we could say, "Only the small family of dippers is aquatic, and only a few other species (such as the cinclodes) specialize in shoreline environments.
Are all the passerines altricial? The article refers to the word but doesn't state that.
Now all we need are references. —JerryFriedman (Talk) 04:09, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
There are a few good "picture encyclopedias" about animals aimed at the general public. The more respectable ones of these usually do well as sources. I don't have:
but the Amazon preview looks encouraging; most animal encyclopedias that follow such a basic layout are ideal for such a purpose. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 15:26, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
Actually the female Fan-tailed Berrypecker is bigger than the male, I just read (Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds, which said, "unusually for passerine birds"). —JerryFriedman (Talk) 19:12, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
Other stuff:
  • smallest and largest (by length and wingspan), heaviest and lightest. Heaviest are Corvus crassirostris, Corvus corax tibetanus and C. c. principalis IIRC, but the lyretails are longer. Smallest... difficult. Each of the main lineages has exceptionally tiny members. HBW says Myiornis ecaudatus and Myiornis atricapillus are the "smallest", but given their stub-tails, I wouldn't be 100% sure they are the lightest. The most short-winged might have been some Acanthisitti, tiny and hardly flying (if flying at all) as they are/were.
  • Are there any cases of reverse sexual dimorphism? Off the top of my head, I can't think of any.
  • longevity - corvids probably top it here, but I have no exact data. Also note that most individuals can be happy if they reach 3-4 years of age in the wild; the actual maximum lifespan seems to be around 10 years or so for most however, closer to 20 for larger ones.
  • feeding - I have noted down some tidbits in the systematic list. But for anything that can be subdued and isn't outright poisonous, there probably is some passerine that'll eat it. Some of the more exotic cases could be mentioned: the handful of fishing tyrant-flycatcher species and dippers, the Pitohuis and Ifrita which eat highly poisonous ?beetles, the crossbills and the Hawaiian honeyceepers with their mutualisms, the assorted woodpeckerish taxa etc. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 15:26, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

"Clade" and distribution of extant clades[edit]

Is "clade" the same as "lineage"? If so, I don't think we should use them in the same sentence.

Can we say something like this? "In general, Australasia is richest in corvoids and the minor lineages, while the rest of the world is richest in Passerida"? —JerryFriedman (Talk) 23:47, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

A clade is the whole group of all descendants, starting at a particular point in a (population genetics-) lineage. Technically, a clade can start at every branching point, but for practical purposes clade ~ major and significant lineage (i.e. not just any lineage that consists of one distinct species that died out without descendants - which is probably what happens to >50% of all lineages, considering most species last for a few Ma),
"...corvoids and the minor basal Passeri, while..." - there are minor lineages everywhere in the Passeriformes (Acanthisitti are right at their base).
(If I understood enough of the math, I could probably give you a fractal dimension... The proportion of oligotypic lineages - that have never been abundant, especially - and major radiations among a clade's taxa often looks similar to me across a diversity of clades.) Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 03:05, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Definition/Characteristics - what are Passeriformes?[edit]

As a non-biologist I want to know is there these species have (more or less) in common. Other than saying Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds this doesn't actually tell me much than a list of orders/species and discussion about classification. Can the article tell me most species are small, or these generally have complex song, or something to give me some idea what they are? (Or is the order really just a classification mechanism?) Drpixie (talk) 21:48, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

We are trying to dig up the information, but unfortunately, the Handbook of Birds has only family-level information... The "expand" tag refers to exactly this deficiency of the article.
To answer the last question - no, it is a distinct clade, which implies that Passerines as a whole have an autapomorphic set of traits. Most notable is a foot specialized to perching (not gripping prey, swimming or standing). The voicebox is also peculiar. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 03:11, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
The article doesn't say that perching allows them to sleep deeply while gripping the branch. Abductive (talk) 03:20, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Passerine is the collaboratin for MArch/Arpil 2010[edit]

Nominated February 10 2010;


  1. Casliber (talk · contribs) 10:18, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
  2. Sounds like a good idea. —innotata (TalkContribs) 19:37, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
  3. Snowman (talk) 15:52, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
  4. SP-KP (talk) 18:19, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
  5. Jimfbleak - talk to me? 11:18, 6 March 2010 (UTC)


  • Just adding this as an alternative option as a group or big article. Don't feel compelled to vote for it though. Casliber (talk · contribs) 10:18, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

To-Do list[edit]

Okay folks, items here. Casliber (talk · contribs) 22:01, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

  • What is the latest census on species numbers? Neeeds to be in lead and expanded in body. Casliber (talk · contribs) 22:01, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Bleck, why do we always pick the hardest subjects for colabs?
  • The model should be bird, with notes on Distribution and habitat, morphology, behaviour, migration, relationship with humans, conservation and threats. This article pretty much needs it all. Sabine's Sunbird talk 22:36, 6 March 2010 (UTC)


Should the sentence

Sexual dichromatism is very rare among the basal lineages of Passerida, and probably their plesiomorphic condition.


Sexual dichromatism is very rare among the basal lineages of Passerida, and probably reflects their plesiomorphic condition. ?--Wetman (talk) 03:41, 20 August 2010 (UTC)


The article states that passerines include more than half of all bird species. What about the non-passerines? Do they fall in one major group, and if so what group? Or groups, plural? A brief reference with link(s) would be useful to a non-specialist such as myself. Karl gregory jones (talk) 14:53, 28 September 2010 (UTC)


What do these birds eat? I can't find it on the page. Supercuty27 00:51, 24 February 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Supercuty27 (talkcontribs)

new family[edit]

Add Elachuridae? — kwami (talk) 09:25, 5 March 2014 (UTC)