Passerine
Overview
A passerine is a bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 of the order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbird
Songbird
A songbird is a bird belonging to the suborder Passeri of the perching birds . Another name that is sometimes seen as scientific or vernacular name is Oscines, from Latin oscen, "a songbird"...

s, the passerines form one of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

 orders: with over 5,000 identified species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

, it has roughly twice as many species as the largest of the mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

 orders, the Rodent
Rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

ia. It contains over 110 families, the second most of any order of vertebrates (after the Perciformes
Perciformes
The Perciformes, also called the Percomorphi or Acanthopteri, is one of the largest orders of vertebrates, containing about 40% of all bony fish. Perciformes means perch-like. They belong to the class of ray-finned fish and comprise over 7,000 species found in almost all aquatic environments...

).

The names "passerines" and "Passeriformes" are derived from Passer domesticus, the scientific name of the type species
Type species
In biological nomenclature, a type species is both a concept and a practical system which is used in the classification and nomenclature of animals and plants. The value of a "type species" lies in the fact that it makes clear what is meant by a particular genus name. A type species is the species...

—the House Sparrow
House Sparrow
The House Sparrow is a bird of the sparrow family Passeridae, found in most parts of the world. One of about 25 species in the genus Passer, the House Sparrow occurs naturally in most of Europe, the Mediterranean region, and much of Asia...

—and ultimately from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 term passer for Passer
Passer
Passer is a genus of Old World sparrows. These sparrows are plump little brown or greyish birds often with black, yellow or white markings. Typically 10–20 cm long, they have short tails and stubby conical beaks...

sparrows and similar small birds.
The order is divided into three suborders, Tyranni
Tyranni
The suborder of passerine birds Tyranni includes about 1,000 species, the large majority of which are South American. It is named after the type genus Tyrannus....

 (suboscines), Passeri (oscines), and the basal Acanthisitti.
Encyclopedia
A passerine is a bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 of the order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbird
Songbird
A songbird is a bird belonging to the suborder Passeri of the perching birds . Another name that is sometimes seen as scientific or vernacular name is Oscines, from Latin oscen, "a songbird"...

s, the passerines form one of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

 orders: with over 5,000 identified species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

, it has roughly twice as many species as the largest of the mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

 orders, the Rodent
Rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

ia. It contains over 110 families, the second most of any order of vertebrates (after the Perciformes
Perciformes
The Perciformes, also called the Percomorphi or Acanthopteri, is one of the largest orders of vertebrates, containing about 40% of all bony fish. Perciformes means perch-like. They belong to the class of ray-finned fish and comprise over 7,000 species found in almost all aquatic environments...

).

The names "passerines" and "Passeriformes" are derived from Passer domesticus, the scientific name of the type species
Type species
In biological nomenclature, a type species is both a concept and a practical system which is used in the classification and nomenclature of animals and plants. The value of a "type species" lies in the fact that it makes clear what is meant by a particular genus name. A type species is the species...

—the House Sparrow
House Sparrow
The House Sparrow is a bird of the sparrow family Passeridae, found in most parts of the world. One of about 25 species in the genus Passer, the House Sparrow occurs naturally in most of Europe, the Mediterranean region, and much of Asia...

—and ultimately from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 term passer for Passer
Passer
Passer is a genus of Old World sparrows. These sparrows are plump little brown or greyish birds often with black, yellow or white markings. Typically 10–20 cm long, they have short tails and stubby conical beaks...

sparrows and similar small birds.

Characteristics

The order is divided into three suborders, Tyranni
Tyranni
The suborder of passerine birds Tyranni includes about 1,000 species, the large majority of which are South American. It is named after the type genus Tyrannus....

 (suboscines), Passeri (oscines), and the basal Acanthisitti. Oscines have the best control of their syrinx
Syrinx (biology)
Syrinx is the name for the vocal organ of birds. Located at the base of a bird's trachea, it produces sounds without the vocal cords of mammals. The sound is produced by vibrations of some or all of the membrana tympaniformis and the pessulus caused by air flowing through the syrinx...

 muscles among birds, producing a wide range of songs
Bird song
Bird vocalization includes both bird calls and bird songs. In non-technical use, bird songs are the bird sounds that are melodious to the human ear. In ornithology and birding, songs are distinguished by function from calls.-Definition:The distinction between songs and calls is based upon...

 and other vocalizations (though some of them, such as the crow
Crow
Crows form the genus Corvus in the family Corvidae. Ranging in size from the relatively small pigeon-size jackdaws to the Common Raven of the Holarctic region and Thick-billed Raven of the highlands of Ethiopia, the 40 or so members of this genus occur on all temperate continents and several...

s, do not sound musical to human beings); some such as the lyrebird
Lyrebird
A Lyrebird is either of two species of ground-dwelling Australian birds, that form the genus, Menura, and the family Menuridae. They are most notable for their superb ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds from their environment. Lyrebirds have unique plumes of neutral coloured...

 are accomplished imitators. The Acanthisittids or New Zealand wren
New Zealand wren
The New Zealand wrens, Acanthisittidae, are a family of tiny passerines endemic to New Zealand. They were represented by six known species in four or five genera, although only two species survive in two genera today...

s are tiny birds restricted to New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, at least in modern times; they were long placed in Passeri; their taxonomic position is uncertain, though they seem to be a distinct and very ancient group.

Most passerines are smaller than typical members of other avian orders. The heaviest and altogether largest passerines are the Thick-billed Raven
Thick-billed Raven
The Thick-billed Raven , a Corvid from the Horn of Africa, shares with the Common Raven the distinction of being the largest in the Corvid family, and indeed the largest of the bird order Passeriformes . They measure 60-64 cm in length and weigh 1.5 kg...

 and the larger races of Common Raven
Common Raven
The Common Raven , also known as the Northern Raven, is a large, all-black passerine bird. Found across the northern hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids...

, each exceeding 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) and 70 cm (27.6 in). The Superb Lyrebird
Superb Lyrebird
The Superb Lyrebird is a pheasant-sized songbird, approximately 100cm long, with brown upper body plumage, grayish-brown below, rounded wings and strong legs...

 and some birds-of-paradise, to 110 cm (43.3 in) due to very long tails or tail coverts, are longer overall. The smallest passerine is the Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant, at 6.5 cm (2.6 in) and 4.2 g (0.14815064084147 oz).
The foot of a passerine has three toes directed forward and one toe directed backwards, called anisodactyl arrangement. This arrangement enables the passerine birds to perch upon vertical surfaces, such as trees and cliffs. The toes have no webbing or joining, but in some cotinga
Cotinga
The cotingas are a large family of passerine bird species found in Central America and tropical South America. Cotingas are birds of forests or forest edges, which mostly eat fruit or insects and fruit. Comparatively little is known about this diverse group, although all have broad bills with...

s the second and third toes are united at their basal third. The hind toe joins the leg at the same level as the front toes. In other orders of birds the toe arrangement is different. The leg muscle of passerine birds contains a special adaption for perching. It will automatically tighten and become stiff, if the bird starts to lose hold of the branch on which it is perching. This enables passerine to sleep while perching without falling off. This is especially useful for passerine birds that develop nocturnal lifestyles.

Most passerine birds develop twelve tail feathers, though the Superb Lyrebird
Superb Lyrebird
The Superb Lyrebird is a pheasant-sized songbird, approximately 100cm long, with brown upper body plumage, grayish-brown below, rounded wings and strong legs...

 has sixteen. Certain species of passerines have stiff tail feathers, which help the birds balance themselves when perching upon vertical surfaces.

The chicks of passerines are altricial
Altricial
Altricial, meaning "requiring nourishment", refers to a pattern of growth and development in organisms which are incapable of moving around on their own soon after hatching or being born...

; blind, featherless, and helpless when hatched from their eggs. This requires that the chicks receive a lot of parental care. Most passerines lay coloured eggs, in contrast with non-passerines, most of whose eggs are white except in some ground-nesting groups such as Charadriiformes
Charadriiformes
Charadriiformes is a diverse order of small to medium-large birds. It includes about 350 species and has members in all parts of the world. Most Charadriiformes live near water and eat invertebrates or other small animals; however, some are pelagic , some occupy deserts and a few are found in thick...

 and nightjar
Nightjar
Nightjars are medium-sized nocturnal or crepuscular birds with long wings, short legs and very short bills. They are sometimes referred to as goatsuckers from the mistaken belief that they suck milk from goats . Some New World species are named as nighthawks...

s, where camouflage is necessary, and some parasitic
Brood parasite
Brood parasites are organisms that use the strategy of brood parasitism, a kind of kleptoparasitism found among birds, fish or insects, involving the manipulation and use of host individuals either of the same or different species to raise the young of the brood-parasite...

 cuckoo
Cuckoo
The cuckoos are a family, Cuculidae, of near passerine birds. The order Cuculiformes, in addition to the cuckoos, also includes the turacos . Some zoologists and taxonomists have also included the unique Hoatzin in the Cuculiformes, but its taxonomy remains in dispute...

s, which match the passerine host's egg.

Origin and evolution

The evolutionary history of the passerine families and the relationships among them remained rather mysterious until the late 20th century. In many cases, passerine families were grouped together on the basis of morphological similarities which, it is now believed, are the result of convergent evolution
Convergent evolution
Convergent evolution describes the acquisition of the same biological trait in unrelated lineages.The wing is a classic example of convergent evolution in action. Although their last common ancestor did not have wings, both birds and bats do, and are capable of powered flight. The wings are...

, not a close genetic relationship. For example, the "wrens" of the northern hemisphere, those of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, and those of New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 look very similar and behave in similar ways, and yet belong to three far-flung branches of the passerine family tree; they are as unrelated as it is possible to be while remaining Passeriformes.

Much research remains to be done, but advances in molecular biology
Molecular biology
Molecular biology is the branch of biology that deals with the molecular basis of biological activity. This field overlaps with other areas of biology and chemistry, particularly genetics and biochemistry...

 and improved paleobiogeographical data are gradually revealing a clearer picture of passerine origins and evolution that reconciles molecular affinities, the constraints of morphology and the specifics of the fossil record. It is now thought that the first passerines evolved in Gondwana
Gondwana
In paleogeography, Gondwana , originally Gondwanaland, was the southernmost of two supercontinents that later became parts of the Pangaea supercontinent. It existed from approximately 510 to 180 million years ago . Gondwana is believed to have sutured between ca. 570 and 510 Mya,...

 at some time in the Paleogene
Paleogene
The Paleogene is a geologic period and system that began 65.5 ± 0.3 and ended 23.03 ± 0.05 million years ago and comprises the first part of the Cenozoic Era...

, maybe around the Late Paleocene some 60–55 mya. The initial split was between the Tyranni
Tyranni
The suborder of passerine birds Tyranni includes about 1,000 species, the large majority of which are South American. It is named after the type genus Tyrannus....

, the songbird
Songbird
A songbird is a bird belonging to the suborder Passeri of the perching birds . Another name that is sometimes seen as scientific or vernacular name is Oscines, from Latin oscen, "a songbird"...

s, the Eurylaimides and the New Zealand "wrens", which must have diverged during a short period of time (some million years at most). The Passeriformes apparently evolved out of a fairly close-knit clade
Clade
A clade is a group consisting of a species and all its descendants. In the terms of biological systematics, a clade is a single "branch" on the "tree of life". The idea that such a "natural group" of organisms should be grouped together and given a taxonomic name is central to biological...

 of "near passerine
Near passerine
Near passerine or higher land-bird assemblage are terms often given to arboreal birds or those most often believed to be related to the true passerines due to ecological similarities; the group corresponds to some extent with the Anomalogonatae of Garrod All near passerines are land birds...

s" which contains such birds as the Piciformes
Piciformes
Nine families of largely arboreal birds make up the order Piciformes, the best-known of them being the Picidae, which includes the woodpeckers and close relatives...

 and Coraciiformes
Coraciiformes
The Coraciiformes are a group of usually colorful near passerine birds including the kingfishers, the Hoopoe, the bee-eaters, the rollers, and the hornbills...

.

A little later, a great radiation of forms took place out of Australia-New Guinea: the Passeri or songbirds. A major branch of the Passeri, "Parvorder Passerida
Passerida
Passerida is under the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy, one of two "parvorders" contained within the suborder Passeri...

", emerged either as the sister group to the basal lineages and corvoids ("Parvorder Corvida
Corvida
The "Corvida" were one of two "parvorders" contained within the suborder Passeri, as proposed in the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy. Standard taxonomic practice would place them at the rank of infraorder....

"), or more likely as a subgroup of it, and expanded deep into Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

 and Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, where there was a further explosive radiation of new lineages. This eventually led to three major passeridan lineages comprising about 4,000 species, which in addition to the corvoidan clade and numerous minor lineages make up songbird diversity today. There has been extensive biogeographical mixing, with northern forms returning to the south, southern forms moving north, and so on.

Earliest passerines

Perching bird osteology
Osteology
Osteology is the scientific study of bones. A subdiscipline of anatomy, anthropology, and archeology, osteology is a detailed study of the structure of bones, skeletal elements, teeth, morphology, function, disease, pathology, the process of ossification , the resistance and hardness of bones , etc...

, especially of the limb bones, is rather diagnostic. However, the early fossil record is poor because the first Passeriformes were apparently on the small side of the present size range, and their delicate bones did not preserve well. QM
Queensland Museum
The Queensland Museum is the state museum of Queensland. The museum currently operates four separate campuses; at South Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba and Townsville.The museum is funded by the State Government of Queensland.-History:...

 specimens F20688 (carpometacarpus
Carpometacarpus
The carpometacarpus is the fusion of the carpal and metacarpal bone, essentially a single fused bone between the wrist and the knuckles. It is a smallish bone in most birds, generally flattened and with a large hole in the middle. In flightless birds, however, its shape may be slightly different,...

) and F24685 (tibiotarsus
Tibiotarsus
The tibiotarsus is the large bone between the femur and the tarsometatarsus in the leg of a bird. It is the fusion of the proximal part of the tarsus with the tibia.A similar structure also occurred in the Mesozoic Heterodontosauridae...

) from Murgon, Queensland
Murgon, Queensland
Murgon is a town in Queensland, Australia. It is situated on the Bunya Highway 270 kilometres north-west of the state capital, Brisbane.Murgon is in the region of Queensland known as the South Burnett, the southern part of the Burnett River catchment...

 are fossil bone fragments clearly recognizable as passeriform; they represent two species of approximately 10 and 20 cm in overall length and prove that some 55 mya, barely into the Early Eocene, early perching birds were recognizably distinct.

A quite similar group, the Zygodactylidae (named for their zygodactylous
Dactyly
In biology, dactyly is the arrangement of digits on the hands, feet, or sometimes wings of a tetrapod animal. It comes from the Greek word δακτυλος = "finger".Sometimes the ending "-dactylia" is used...

 approach to perching) independently arose at much the same time – and possibly from closely related ancestors – in the landmasses bordering the North Atlantic, which at that time was only some two-thirds of its present width.

Until the discovery of the Australian fossils Palaeospiza bella
Palaeospiza bella
Palaeospiza bella is a bird which was originally considered a Passerine but is now included in Mousebirds or Coliiformes. Palaeospiza bella fossils have been found in what is now North America from the late Eocene.-References and external links:**...

from the Priabonian
Priabonian
The Priabonian is, in the ICS's geologic timescale, the latest age or the upper stage of the Eocene epoch or series. It spans the time between and...

 Florissant Fossil Beds (Late Eocene, around 35 mya) was the oldest known passeriform. However, it is now considered a non-passeriform near passerine
Near passerine
Near passerine or higher land-bird assemblage are terms often given to arboreal birds or those most often believed to be related to the true passerines due to ecological similarities; the group corresponds to some extent with the Anomalogonatae of Garrod All near passerines are land birds...

.

From the Bathans Formation at the Manuherikia River
Manuherikia River
The Manuherikia River is located in Otago in the South Island of New Zealand. It rises in the far north of the Maniototo, flowing southwest for 85 kilometres before its confluence with the Clutha River at Alexandra. During the 1860s the Manuherikia was one of the centres of the Central Otago Gold...

 in Otago
Otago
Otago is a region of New Zealand in the south of the South Island. The region covers an area of approximately making it the country's second largest region. The population of Otago is...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, MNZ
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is the national museum and art gallery of New Zealand, located in Wellington. It is branded and commonly known as Te Papa and Our Place; "Te Papa Tongarewa" is broadly translatable as "the place of treasures of this land".The museum's principles...

 S42815 (a distal right tarsometatarsus
Tarsometatarsus
The tarsometatarsus is a bone that is found in the lower leg of certain tetrapods, namely birds.It is formed from the fusion of several bones found in other types of animals, and homologous to the mammalian tarsal and metatarsal bones...

 of a Tui
Tui (bird)
The tui is an endemic passerine bird of New Zealand. It is one of the largest members of the diverse honeyeater family....

-sized bird) and several bones of at least one species of Saddleback-sized bird have recently been described. These date from the Early to Middle Miocene
Middle Miocene
The Middle Miocene is a sub-epoch of the Miocene Epoch made up of two stages: the Langhian and Serravallian stages. The Middle Miocene is preceded by the Early Miocene....

 (Awamoan to Lillburnian, 19-16 mya).

Modern knowledge about the living passerines' interrelationships (see the list of families below) suggests that the last common ancestor of all living Passeriformes was a small forest bird, probably with a stubby tail and an overall drab coloration, but possibly with marked sexual dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism is a phenotypic difference between males and females of the same species. Examples of such differences include differences in morphology, ornamentation, and behavior.-Examples:-Ornamentation / coloration:...

. The latter trait seems to have been lost and re-evolved multiple times in songbird evolution alone, judging from its distribution among the extant lineages.
Sexual dichromatism is very rare among the basal lineages of Passerida, and probably their plesiomorphic condition. But among the youngest passerid clade, the Passeroidea, extremely colorful males and drab females are common, if not the rule. On the other hand, among the basalmost Passeri there are a considerable number of strongly dimorphic lineages too, such as the very ancient Menuridae as well as many Meliphagoidea
Meliphagoidea
Meliphagoidea is a superfamily of passerine birds. They contain a vast diversity of small to mid-sized songbirds widespread in the Austropacific region. The Australian Continent has the largest richness in genera and species.-Systematics:...

 and Corvoidea. Sexual dimorphism is also not uncommon in the Acanthisittidae and prominent in some suboscines such as the Pipridae and Cotingidae.

Early European passerines

In Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, perching birds are not too uncommon in the fossil record from the Oligocene
Oligocene
The Oligocene is a geologic epoch of the Paleogene Period and extends from about 34 million to 23 million years before the present . As with other older geologic periods, the rock beds that define the period are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the period are slightly...

 onwards, but most are too fragmentary for a more definite placement:
  • Wieslochia (Early Oligocene of Frauenweiler, Germany)
  • Passeriformes gen. et sp. indet. (Early Oligocene of Luberon, France) – suboscine or basal
  • Passeriformes gen. et spp. indet. (Late Oligocene of France) – several suboscine and oscine taxa
  • Passeriformes gen. et spp. indet. (Middle Miocene of France and Germany) – basal?
  • Passeriformes gen. et spp. indet. (Sajóvölgyi Middle Miocene of Mátraszõlõs, Hungary) – at least 2 taxa, possibly 3; at least one probably Oscines
  • Passeriformes gen. et sp. indet. (Middle Miocene of Felsõtárkány, Hungary) – oscine?
  • Passeriformes gen. et sp. indet. (Late Miocene of Polgárdi, Hungary) – Sylvioidea
    Sylvioidea
    Sylvioidea is a superfamily of passerine birds. It is one of at least three major clades within the Passerida along with the Muscicapoidea and Passeroidea. It contains about 1300 species including the Old World warblers, Old World babblers, swallows, larks, bulbuls and perhaps the tits...

     (Sylviidae
    Sylviidae
    Sylviidae is a family of passerine birds that was part of an assemblage known as the Old World warblers. The family was formerly a wastebin taxon with over 400 species of bird in over 70 genera. The family was poorly defined with many characteristics shared with other families...

    ? Cettiidae
    Cettiidae
    Cettiidae is a newly validated family of small insectivorous songbirds , formerly placed in the Old World warbler "wastebin" assemblage. It contains the typical bush-warblers and their relatives. As common name, cettiid warblers is usually used.Its members occur mainly in Asia and Africa, ranging...

    ?)


Wieslochia was possibly not a member of any extant suborder. That not only the Passeri expanded much beyond their region of origin is proven by an undetermined broadbill
Broadbill
The broadbills are a family of small passerine birds, Eurylaimidae. The Smithornis and Pseudocalyptomena species occur in sub-Saharan Africa; the rest extend from the eastern Himalayas to Sumatra and Borneo. The family possibly also includes the Sapayoa from the Neotropics and the asities from...

 (Eurylaimidae) from the Early Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

 (roughly 20 mya) of Wintershof, Germany, and the indeterminate Late Oligocene suboscine from France listed above. Even very basal Passeriformes might have been common in Europe until the Middle Miocene, some 12 mya. Extant Passeri superfamilies were quite distinct by that time and are known since about 12–13 mya when modern genera were present in the corvoidean and basal songbirds. The modern diversity of Passerida genera is known mostly from the Late Miocene onwards and into the Pliocene
Pliocene
The Pliocene Epoch is the period in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.332 million to 2.588 million years before present. It is the second and youngest epoch of the Neogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Pliocene follows the Miocene Epoch and is followed by the Pleistocene Epoch...

 (about 10–2 mya). Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 and early Holocene
Holocene
The Holocene is a geological epoch which began at the end of the Pleistocene and continues to the present. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words and , meaning "entirely recent"...

 lagerstätten (<1.8 mya) yield numerous extant species, and many yield almost nothing but extant species or their chronospecies
Chronospecies
A chronospecies describes a group of one or more species derived from a sequential development pattern which involves continual and uniform changes from an extinct ancestral form on an evolutionary scale. This sequence of alterations eventually produces a population which is physically,...

 and paleosubspecies.

American fossils

In the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, the fossil record is more scant before the Pleistocene, from which several still-existing suboscine families are documented. Apart from the indeterminable MACN-SC-1411 (Pinturas Early/Middle Miocene of Santa Cruz Province, Argentina), an extinct lineage of perching birds has been described from the Late Miocene of California, USA: the Palaeoscinidae with the single genus Paleoscinis. "Palaeostruthus" eurius (Pliocene of Florida) probably belongs to an extant family, most likely passeroidean.
See also Late Quaternary prehistoric birds
Late Quaternary prehistoric birds
Prehistoric birds are various taxa of birds that became extinct before recorded history, or more precisely, before they could be studied alive by bird scientists...

.

Systematics and taxonomy

Initially, the Corvida
Corvida
The "Corvida" were one of two "parvorders" contained within the suborder Passeri, as proposed in the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy. Standard taxonomic practice would place them at the rank of infraorder....

 and Passerida were classified as "parvorders" in the suborder Passeri; in accord with the usual taxonomic practice, they would probably be ranked as infraorders. As originally envisioned in the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy
Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy
The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy is a bird taxonomy proposed by Charles Sibley and Jon Edward Ahlquist. It is based on DNA-DNA hybridization studies conducted in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s....

, they contained, respectively, the large superfamilies
Taxonomic rank
In biological classification, rank is the level in a taxonomic hierarchy. Examples of taxonomic ranks are species, genus, family, and class. Each rank subsumes under it a number of less general categories...

 Corvoidea and Meliphagoidea as well as minor lineages, and the superfamilies Sylvioidea, Muscicapoidea and Passeroidea.

This arrangement has been found to be overly simplified by more recent research. Since the mid 2000s, literally dozens of studies are being published which try rather successfully to resolve the phylogeny of the passeriform radiation. For example, the Corvida in the traditional sense were a rather arbitrary assemblage of early and/or minor lineages of passeriform birds of Old World origin, generally from the region of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, and Wallacea
Wallacea
Wallacea is a biogeographical designation for a group of Indonesian islands separated by deep water straits from the Asian and Australian continental shelves. Wallacea includes Sulawesi, the largest island in the group, as well as Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Sumba, Timor, Halmahera, Buru, Seram, and...

. The Passeri on the other hand can be made monophyletic by moving some families about, but the "clean" three-superfamily-arrangement has turned out to be far more complex and it is uncertain whether future authors will stick to it.

Major "wastebin
Wastebin taxon
Wastebasket taxon is a term used in some taxonomic circles to refer to a taxon that has the sole purpose of classifying organisms that do not fit anywhere else. They are typically defined by their lack of one or more distinct character states or by their not belonging to one or more other taxa...

" families such as the Old World warbler
Old World warbler
The "Old World Warblers" is the name used to describe a large group of birds formerly grouped together in the bird family Sylviidae. The family held over 400 species in over 70 genera, and were the source of much taxonomic confusion. Two families were split out initially, the cisticolas into...

s and Old World babbler
Old World babbler
The Old World babblers or timaliids are a large family of mostly Old World passerine birds. They are rather diverse in size and coloration, but are characterised by soft fluffy plumage. These are birds of tropical areas, with the greatest variety in Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent...

s have turned out to be paraphyletic and are being rearranged. Several taxa turned out to represent highly distinct species-poor lineages and consequently new families had to be established, some of them – like the Stitchbird
Stitchbird
The Stitchbird or Hihi is a rare honeyeater-like bird endemic to the North Island and adjacent offshore islands of New Zealand. It became extirpated everywhere except Little Barrier Island but has been reintroduced to three other island sanctuaries and two locations on the North Island mainland...

 of New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and the Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

n Bearded Reedling – monotypic
Monotypic
In biology, a monotypic taxon is a taxonomic group with only one biological type. The term's usage differs slightly between botany and zoology. The term monotypic has a separate use in conservation biology, monotypic habitat, regarding species habitat conversion eliminating biodiversity and...

 with only one living species. It seems likely that in the Passeri alone, a number of minor lineages will eventually be recognized as distinct superfamilies. For example, the kinglet
Kinglet
The kinglets or crests are a small group of birds sometimes included in the Old World warblers, but are frequently given family status because they also resemble the titmice. The scientific name Regulidae is derived from the Latin word regulus for "petty king" or prince, and comes from the...

s constitute a single genus with less than 10 species today, but seem to have been among the first perching bird lineages to diverge as the group spread across Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

. No particularly close relatives of them have been found among comprehensive studies of the living Passeri, though it is suspected that they might be fairly close to some little-studied tropical Asian groups. Treatment of the nuthatch
Nuthatch
The nuthatches are a genus, Sitta, of small passerine birds belonging to the family Sittidae. Characterised by large heads, short tails, and powerful bills and feet, nuthatches advertise their territory using loud, simple songs...

es, wren
Wren
The wrens are passerine birds in the mainly New World family Troglodytidae. There are approximately 80 species of true wrens in approximately 20 genera....

s, and their closest relatives as a distinct superfamily Certhioidea is increasingly considered justified; the same might eventually apply to the tits and their closest relatives.

This process is still continuing. Therefore, the arrangement as presented here is subject to change. However, it should take precedence over unreferenced conflicting treatments in family, genus and species articles here; see the next section for default sources.

Taxonomic list of Passeriformes families

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
Handbook of the Birds of the World
The Handbook of the Birds of the World is a multi-volume series produced by the Spanish publishing house Lynx Edicions. It is the first handbook to cover every known living species of bird. The series is edited by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliott, Jordi Sargatal and David A Christie.So far, 15...

, based on the most modern and comprehensive studies.

Regarding arrangement of families

The families are sorted into a somewhat unusual sequence. This is because so many reallocations have taken place since about 2005 that a definite arrangement has not been established yet. The present sequence is an attempt to preserve as much of the traditional sequence while giving priority to adequately addressing the relationships between the families.

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
        Asity
        The asities, are a family, the Philepittidae, of small suboscine passerine birds. The family consists of four species in two genera endemic to Madagascar. They were thought to have been related to the pittas, hence the scientific name of the family, but a 1993 study suggested that they are actually...

        : asities
      • Sapayoidae: Broad-billed Sapayoa
    • Superfamily Pittoidea
      • Pittidae
        Pitta
        Pitta may stand for:*Pittas, a family of tropical birds*Pitta bread *Pitta , an island in the Dodecanese archipelago, in the Aegean Sea...

        : pittas


  • Infraorder Tyrannides – New World suboscines
    • Superfamily N.N. – "bronchophones"
      • Tyrannidae: tyrant flycatchers
      • Tityridae
        Tityridae
        Tityridae is family of suboscine passerine birds found in forest and woodland in the Neotropics. The approximately 30 species in this family were formerly spread over the families Tyrannidae, Pipridae and Cotingidae . As yet, no widely accepted common name exists for the family, although Tityras...

        : tityras and allies.
      • Cotingidae: cotingas
      • Pipridae: manakins
    • Superfamily Furnarioidea – tracheophones
      • Furnariidae: ovenbirds and woodcreepers
      • Thamnophilidae: antbirds
      • Formicariidae
        Formicariidae
        The Formicariidae, formicariids, or ground antbirds are a family of smallish passerine birds of subtropical and tropical Central and South America. They are between 10 and 20 cm in length, and are related to the antbirds, Thamnophilidae, and gnateaters, Conopophagidae...

        : antpittas, antthrushes and typical tapaculos. Possibly polyphyletic.
      • Conopophagidae: gnateaters and gnatpittas
      • N.N.: atypical "tapaculo
        Tapaculo
        The tapaculos are a group of small suboscine passeriform birds with numerous species, found mainly in South America and with the highest diversity in the Andean regions...

        s" (crescent-chests and allies)


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
    Meliphagoidea
    Meliphagoidea is a superfamily of passerine birds. They contain a vast diversity of small to mid-sized songbirds widespread in the Austropacific region. The Australian Continent has the largest richness in genera and species.-Systematics:...

     – mainly insectivores and nectarivores, distribution centered on Australo-Melanesian region extending into surroundings, notably the Pacific.
    • Maluridae
      Maluridae
      The Maluridae are a family of small, insectivorous passerine birds endemic to Australia and New Guinea. Commonly known as wrens, they are unrelated to the true wrens of the Northern Hemisphere...

      : fairywrens, emu-wrens and grasswrens
    • Dasyornithidae: bristlebirds. Formerly in Acanthizidae.
    • Acanthizidae
      Acanthizidae
      The Acanthizidae, also known as the Australasian warblers, are a family of passerine birds which include gerygones, thornbills, and scrubwrens. The Acanthizidae consists of small to medium passerine birds, with a total length varying between 8 and 19 cm. They have short rounded wings, slender...

      : scrubwrens, thornbills, and gerygones
    • Meliphagidae: honeyeaters
    • Meliphagoidea incertae sedis
      • Pardalotidae: pardalotes. Formerly in Acanthizidae, might be included in Meliphagidae.
      • Acanthorhynchus: spinebills. Usually included in Meliphagidae; might be considered a monotypic
        Monotypic
        In biology, a monotypic taxon is a taxonomic group with only one biological type. The term's usage differs slightly between botany and zoology. The term monotypic has a separate use in conservation biology, monotypic habitat, regarding species habitat conversion eliminating biodiversity and...

         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.
    • Melanocharitidae
      Melanocharitidae
      The Melanocharitidae, the berrypeckers and longbills, is a small bird family restricted to the forests of New Guinea. The family contains ten species in four genera...

      : berrypeckers and longbills. Tentatively placed here.
    • Callaeidae
      Callaeidae
      The small bird family Callaeidae is endemic to New Zealand. It contains three monotypic genera; of the three species in the family, only two survive and both of them, the Kokako and the Saddleback, are endangered species, threatened primarily by the predations of introduced mammalian species such...

      : New Zealand wattlebirds. Tentatively placed here.
    • Family N.N.: Stitchbird
      Stitchbird
      The Stitchbird or Hihi is a rare honeyeater-like bird endemic to the North Island and adjacent offshore islands of New Zealand. It became extirpated everywhere except Little Barrier Island but has been reintroduced to three other island sanctuaries and two locations on the North Island mainland...

      . Tentatively placed here.
    • Cnemophilidae
      Cnemophilidae
      The Satinbirds or Cnemophilines, Cnemophilidae are a group of passerine birds which consists of three species found in the mountain forests of New Guinea...

      : satinbirds. Tentatively placed here.
    • Neosittidae: sittellas
    • Vireonidae: vireos
    • Campephagidae: cuckoo-shrikes and trillers
    • Pachycephalidae
      Pachycephalidae
      The family Pachycephalidae, collectively the whistlers, includes the whistlers, shrike-thrushes, shrike-tits, pitohuis and Crested Bellbird, and is part of the ancient Australo-Papuan radiation of songbirds. Its members range from small to medium in size, and occupy most of Australasia...

      : whistlers and allies. Delimitation with regards to several proposed families and subfamilies requires thorough study.
    • Oriolidae: orioles and Figbird
    • Paramythiidae: Tit Berrypecker and Crested Berrypecker. Formerly in Passerida.
    • Artamidae
      Artamidae
      The family Artamidae gathers together 20 species of mostly crow-like birds native to Australasia and nearby areas.There are two subfamilies: Artaminae, the woodswallows, are sombre-coloured, soft-plumaged birds that have a brush-tipped tongue but seldom use it for gathering nectar. Instead, they...

      : woodswallows, butcherbirds, currawongs and Australian Magpie
    • Malaconotidae: puffback shrikes, bush shrikes, tchagras and boubous
    • Platysteiridae: wattle-eyes. 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
      Corcoracidae
      The Australian mudnesters are passerine family Struthideidae. The family is often commonly called Corcoracidae, however this is the junior synonym. It contains just two species in two genera, the White-winged Chough, Corcorax melanorhamphos, and the Apostlebird Struthidea cinerea...

      : White-winged Chough and Apostlebird
    • Laniidae: shrikes
    • Corvidae
      Corvidae
      Corvidae is a cosmopolitan family of oscine passerine birds that contains the crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, magpies, treepies, choughs and nutcrackers. The common English names used are corvids or the crow family , and there are over 120 species...

      : crows, ravens and jays
    • Corvoidea incertae sedis
      • Vireolanius
        Vireolanius
        Vireolanius is a genus of bird in the Vireonidae family.It contains the following species:* Yellow-browed Shrike-vireo * Slaty-capped Shrike-vireo...

        : shrike-vireos. Usually included in Vireonidae, possibly a monotypic family,
      • Erpornis: White-bellied Erpornis. Formerly in Yuhina
        Yuhina
        Yuhina is a genus of bird in the Timaliidae family.It contains the following species:* Striated Yuhina * Chestnut-crested 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
        Cinclosomatidae
        Cinclosomatidae is a family of passerine birds native to Australia and nearby areas. It has a complicated taxonomic history and different authors vary in which birds they include in the family. It includes at least the quail-thrushes , 5 species of ground-dwelling birds found in Australia and New...

        : 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.
      • "Pitohuidae": pitohui
        Pitohui
        The pitohuis are a genus of birds endemic to New Guinea, belonging to the family Pachycephalidae.Currently six species are classified in the genus, though current molecular genetics research suggests that significant reclassification of the Pachycephalidae may be needed.-Species:* Variable...

        s. Usually included in Pachycephalidae but seem closer to Oriolidae and best considered a distinct family including Oreoica and possibly other Pachycephalidae sensu lato.
      • Melampitta
        Melampitta
        Melampitta is a genus of New Guinean bird containing two enigmatic species. These are birds with black plumage that live in remote rainforests. They are little studied and even their taxonomic relationships with other birds are uncertain.-Taxonomy:...

        : 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
    Corvida
    The "Corvida" were one of two "parvorders" contained within the suborder Passeri, as proposed in the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy. Standard taxonomic practice would place them at the rank of infraorder....

    ")
    incertae sedis
    Incertae sedis
    , is a term used to define a taxonomic group where its broader relationships are unknown or undefined. Uncertainty at specific taxonomic levels is attributed by , , and similar terms.-Examples:*The fossil plant Paradinandra suecica could not be assigned to any...

    • Possible superfamily "Ptilonorhynchoidea" – bowerbirds and Australian treecreepers
      • Climacteridae: Australian treecreepers
      • Turnagridae
        Turnagridae
        The Turnagridae or piopio are a pair of passerine birds endemic to New Zealand, both of which are now considered extinct. Sometimes described as New Zealand Thrushes, the Piopio had only a coincidental, passing resemblance to the Thrush family. Piopio have been a longstanding taxonomic mystery...

        : Piopio (extinct)
      • Ptilonorhynchidae: bowerbirds
    • Possible superfamily N.N. – logrunners and pseudo-babblers
      • Orthonychidae
        Orthonychidae
        The Orthonychidae is a family of birds with a single genus, Orthonyx, which comprises three species of passerine birds endemic to Australia and New Guinea, the Logrunners and the Chowchilla. Some authorities consider the Australian family Cinclosomatidae to be part of the Orthonychidae...

        : logrunners
      • Pomatostomidae: pseudo-babblers
    • Petroicidae
      Petroicidae
      The bird family Petroicidae includes roughly 45 species in about 15 genera. All are endemic to Australasia: New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and numerous Pacific Islands as far east as Samoa. For want of an accurate common name, the family is often called the Australasian robins. Within the...

      : Australian robins
    • Possible superfamily N.N.
      • Picathartidae: rockfowl.
      • Chaetopidae: rock-jumpers. Recently split from Turdidae.
      • Eupetidae: Malaysian Rail-babbler. Recently split from Cinclosomatidae.
    • Possible monotypic superfamily Reguloidea – kinglets
      • Regulidae: kinglets
    • Possible monotypic superfamily N.N.
    • Family N.N.: Hyliota
      Hyliota
      Hyliota is a genus of passerine bird. The taxonomic position of the genus has been a long standing mystery. They have been formerly regarded as Old World warblers in the Sylviidae family, or related to the batises and wattle-eyes in the family Platysteiridae, bush-shrikes in the family...

      s. Recently split from Sylviidae.
    • Irenidae: fairy-bluebirds. Reguloidea? Basal to/in Passeroidea?
    • Chloropseidae: leafbirds. Reguloidea? Basal to/in Passeroidea?

Infraorder Passerida

  • Superfamily Sylvioidea
    Sylvioidea
    Sylvioidea is a superfamily of passerine birds. It is one of at least three major clades within the Passerida along with the Muscicapoidea and Passeroidea. It contains about 1300 species including the Old World warblers, Old World babblers, swallows, larks, bulbuls and perhaps the tits...

     – mostly insectivores, distribution centered on the Indo-Pacific
    Indo-Pacific
    The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region of the Earth's seas, comprising the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Ocean, and the seas connecting the two in the general area of Indonesia...

     region. Few occur in the Australian region and fewer still in the Americas. Usually sleek and drab birds, few have pronounced sexual dimorphism
    Sexual dimorphism
    Sexual dimorphism is a phenotypic difference between males and females of the same species. Examples of such differences include differences in morphology, ornamentation, and behavior.-Examples:-Ornamentation / coloration:...

    .
    • Alaudidae: larks
    • Hirundinidae: swallows and martins
    • Phylloscopidae
      Phylloscopidae
      Phylloscopidae is a newly described family of small insectivorous birds formerly placed in the Old World warbler family. Its members occur in Eurasia, ranging into Wallacea and Africa...

      : leaf-warblers and allies. Recently split from Sylviidae.
    • Aegithalidae: long-tailed tits or bushtits
    • Cettiidae
      Cettiidae
      Cettiidae is a newly validated family of small insectivorous songbirds , formerly placed in the Old World warbler "wastebin" assemblage. It contains the typical bush-warblers and their relatives. As common name, cettiid warblers is usually used.Its members occur mainly in Asia and Africa, ranging...

      : ground-warblers and allies. Recently split from Sylviidae.
    • Locustellidae: grass-warblers and allies. Recently split from Sylviidae.
    • Bernieridae: Malagasy warblers. A newly assembled family.
    • Acrocephalidae
      Acrocephalidae
      Acrocephalidae is a family of oscine passerine birds, in the superfamily Sylvioidea....

      : marsh- and tree-warblers. Recently split from Sylviidae.
    • Pycnonotidae: bulbuls
    • Cisticolidae
      Cisticolidae
      The Cisticolidae family of small passerine birds is a group of about 110 warblers found mainly in warmer southern regions of the Old World. They are often included within the Old World warbler family Sylviidae....

      : cisticolas and allies
    • Sylviidae
      Sylviidae
      Sylviidae is a family of passerine birds that was part of an assemblage known as the Old World warblers. The family was formerly a wastebin taxon with over 400 species of bird in over 70 genera. The family was poorly defined with many characteristics shared with other families...

      : "true/sylviid warblers" and parrotbills. Might be merged in Timaliidae. Monophyly needs confirmation.
    • Zosteropidae: white-eyes. Probably belongs in Timaliidae.
    • Timaliidae: (Old World) babblers. Monophyly needs confirmation.
    • Sylvioidea incertae sedis
      • "African warblers": A proposed clade, but monophyly needs confirmation. Formerly in Sylviidae.
      • Donacobius: Black-capped Donacobius. Monotypic
        Monotypic
        In biology, a monotypic taxon is a taxonomic group with only one biological type. The term's usage differs slightly between botany and zoology. The term monotypic has a separate use in conservation biology, monotypic habitat, regarding species habitat conversion eliminating biodiversity and...

         family? Tentatively placed here; possibly closest to Megaluridae. Formerly in Troglodytidae and Mimidae.
      • Nicator
        Nicator
        Nicator is a genus of songbird endemic to Africa. The genus contains three medium sized passerine birds.-Taxonomy:The systematic affinities of the genus have been a long-standing mystery. The group was originally assigned to the shrikes...

        : Relationships unresolved, monotypic family? Tentatively placed here; formerly in Pycnonotidae.


  • Superfamily Muscicapoidea – mostly insectivores, near-global distribution centered on Old World tropics
    Tropics
    The tropics is a region of the Earth surrounding the Equator. It is limited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere at approximately  N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere at  S; these latitudes correspond to the axial tilt of the Earth...

    . One family endemic to Americas. Nearly absent (except introductions) from the Australian region. Usually rather stocky 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 creeper
      Philippine creeper
      The Philippine creepers or rhabdornises are small passerine birds. They are endemic to the Philippines. The group contains a single genus Rhabdornis with three species...

      s. Placement of latter in Muscicapoidea seems good, but inclusion in Sturnidae requires confirmation; possibly distinct family Rhabdornithidae.
    • Mimidae: mockingbirds and thrashers


  • Superfamily Certhioidea – wrens and allies. Sometimes included in Muscicapoidea.
    • Sittidae
      Sittidae
      Sittidae is a family of small passerine birds which contains the single genus Sitta containing about 24 species of nuthatches, which are found across Eurasia and North America....

      : 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 Creeper. Tentatively placed here; often considered a subfamily of the Certhidae.
    • Troglodytidae: wrens
    • Polioptilidae: gnatcatchers


  • Superfamily Passeroidea – mostly herbivores including many seed-eaters, near-global distribution centered on Palearctic
    Palearctic
    The Palearctic or Palaearctic is one of the eight ecozones dividing the Earth's surface.Physically, the Palearctic is the largest ecozone...

     and Americas. Includes the Nine-primaried oscine
    Nine-primaried oscine
    The nine-primaried oscines are a group of songbird families from the superfamily Passeroidea. It is composed of the Fringillidae , Emberizidae , Parulidae , Thraupidae , Cardinalidae , Icteridae and the monotypic Peucedramidae...

    s (probably a subclade). A very high proportion of colorful and highly sexually dimorphic forms.
    • Passeridae: true sparrows
    • Prunellidae: accentors
    • Motacillidae
      Motacillidae
      The Motacillidae are a family of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. There are around 65 species in 6 genera and they include the wagtails, longclaws and pipits. The longclaws are entirely restricted to the Afrotropics, and the wagtails are predominately found in Europe, Africa and...

      : wagtails and pipits
    • Urocynchramidae: Przewalski's Finch. Recently split from Fringillidae; tentatively placed here.
    • Estrildidae: estrildid finches (waxbills, munias, etc.)
    • Ploceidae: weavers
    • Viduidae: indigobirds and whydahs
    • Nine-primaried oscine
      Nine-primaried oscine
      The nine-primaried oscines are a group of songbird families from the superfamily Passeroidea. It is composed of the Fringillidae , Emberizidae , Parulidae , Thraupidae , Cardinalidae , Icteridae and the monotypic Peucedramidae...

      s:
      • Peucedramidae: Olive Warbler
      • Fringillidae: true finches and Hawaiian honeycreeper
        Hawaiian honeycreeper
        Hawaiian honeycreepers are small, passerine birds endemic to Hawaii. Some authorities still categorize this group as a family Drepanididae, but in recent years, most authorities consider them a subfamily, Drepanidinae, of Fringillidae, the finch family...

        s. Possibly polyphyletic.
      • Icteridae: grackles, New World blackbirds, and New World orioles
      • Parulidae: New World warblers
      • Thraupidae: tanagers and allies
      • Cardinalidae: cardinals
      • Emberizidae
        Emberizidae
        The Emberizidae are a large family of passerine birds. They are seed-eating birds with a distinctively shaped bill.In Europe, most species are called buntings. In North America, most of the species in this family are known as sparrows, but these birds are not closely related to the sparrows, the...

        : buntings and American sparrows
    • Passeroidea incertae sedis
      • Coerebidae: Bananaquit. Family invalid or not monotypic
        Monotypic
        In biology, a monotypic taxon is a taxonomic group with only one biological type. The term's usage differs slightly between botany and zoology. The term monotypic has a separate use in conservation biology, monotypic habitat, regarding species habitat conversion eliminating biodiversity and...

        ; reallocation pending.

  • 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
    North America
    North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

    .
    • Panurus: Bearded Reedling (Bearded "Tit"). Relationships enigmatic. Formerly in "Paradoxornithidae", might be included in Sylvioidea as monotypic family Panuridae or even constitute the smallest passerine superfamily.
    • Possible superfamily Paroidea – titmice and allies. Might be included in Sylvioidea.
      • Paridae: tits, chickadees and titmice
      • Remizidae: penduline tits. Sometimes included in Paridae.
      • Stenostiridae
        Stenostiridae
        Stenostiridae, or the Fairy Flycatchers, is a family of small passerine birds proposed as a result of recent discoveries in molecular systematics . They are commonly referred to as stenostirid warblers....

        : stenostirids ("flycatcher-tits"). A newly assembled family; sometimes included in Paridae.
    • Possible superfamily Bombycilloidea – waxwings and allies. Included in Muscicapoidea if Sittoidea/Certhioidea are not considered a distinct superfamily.
      • Bombycillidae: waxwings
      • Dulidae: Palmchat. Tentatively placed here.
      • Ptilogonatidae: silky flycatchers. Tentatively placed here.
      • Hypocoliidae: Hypocolius. Tentatively placed here.
      • Mohoidae
        Mohoidae
        Mohoidae is a family of Hawaiian species of recently extinct, nectarivorous songbirds in the genera Moho and Chaetoptila . These now extinct birds form their own family, representing the only complete extinction of an entire avian family in modern times, when the disputed family Turnagridae is...

    • Possible superfamily "Dicaeoidea" – sunbirds and flowerpeckers. Might be included in Passeroidea.
      • Nectariniidae: sunbirds
      • Dicaeidae: flowerpeckers
    • Possible monotypic superfamily N.N.
      • Promeropidae: sugarbirds. Might be included in Passeroidea.
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