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Superb Lyrebird as painted by John Gould of a British Museum specimen ( in real life, the Lyrebird's tail is different )
Superb Lyrebird
as painted by John Gould
of a British Museum specimen
( in real life, the Lyrebird's tail is different )
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Many, see text

A songbird or oscine is a bird belonging to the suborder Passeri of Passeriformes (ca. 4000 species), in which the vocal organ is developed in such a way as to produce various sound notes, commonly known as bird song. Songbirds evolved about 50 million years ago in the western part of Gondwana that later became Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica and later spread around the world.

This 'bird song' is essentially territorial in that it communicates the identity and whereabouts of an individual to other birds and also signals sexual intentions. It is not to be confused with bird calls which are used for alarms and contact, and are especially important in birds that feed or migrate in flocks.

Other birds have songs to attract mates or hold territory, but these are usually simple and repetitive, lacking the variety of many passerine songs. The monotonous repetition of the Common Cuckoo or Little Crake can be contrasted with the variety of a Nightingale or Marsh Warbler.

Although many songbirds have songs which are pleasant to the human ear, this is not invariably the case. Many members of the crow family make croaks or screeches which sound harsh to humans.

Under the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy this suborder is divided into two parvorders, Corvida and Passerida. However, more recent research is casting doubt on the existence of Corvida as single parvorder, but given the present lack of any generally accepted redivision of Corvida into two or more groupings at the parvorder level, the families of suborder Passeri are listed below as being in either Corvida or Passerida.




  • Menuridae: lyrebirds
    Atrichornithidae: scrub birds
    Climacteridae: Australian treecreepers
    Maluridae: fairy-wrens, emu-wrens and grasswrens
    Meliphagidae: honeyeaters and chats
    Pardalotidae: pardalotes, scrubwrens, thornbills, and gerygones
    Petroicidae: Australian robins
    Orthonychidae: logrunners
    Pomatostomidae: Australasian babblers
    Cinclosomatidae: whipbirds and allies
    Neosittidae: sittellas
    Pachycephalidae: whistlers, shrike-thrushes, pitohuis and allies
    Dicruridae: monarch flycatchers and allies
    Campephagidae: cuckoo shrikes and trillers
    Oriolidae: orioles and Figbird
    Icteridae: American blackbirds, New World orioles, grackles and cowbirds.
    Artamidae: wood swallows, butcherbirds, currawongs and Australian Magpie
    Paradisaeidae: birds of paradise
    Corvidae: crows, ravens, and jays
    Corcoracidae: White-winged Chough and Apostlebird
    Irenidae: fairy-bluebirds
    Laniidae: shrikes
    Vireonidae: vireos
    Ptilonorhynchidae: bowerbirds
    Turnagridae: Piopio


  • Alaudidae: larks
    Chloropseidae: leafbirds
    Aegithinidae: ioras
    Picathartidae: rockfowl
    Bombycillidae: waxwings and allies
    Ptilogonatidae: silky flycatchers
    Cinclidae: dippers
    Motacillidae: wagtails and pipits
    Prunellidae: accentor
    Melanocharitidae: berrypeckers and longbills
    Paramythiidae: tit berrypecker and crested berrypeckers
    Passeridae: true sparrows
    Estrildidae: estrildid finches (waxbills, munias, etc)
    Parulidae: New World warblers
    Thraupidae: tanagers and allies
    Peucedramidae: Olive Warbler
    Fringillidae: true finches
    Cardinalidae: cardinals
    Drepanididae: Hawaiian honeycreepers
    Emberizidae: buntings and American sparrows
    Nectariniidae: sunbirds
    Dicaeidae: flowerpeckers
    Mimidae: mockingbirds and thrashers
    Sittidae: nuthatches
    Certhiidae: treecreepers
    Troglodytidae: wrens
    Polioptilidae: gnatcatchers
    Paridae: tits, chickadees and titmice
    Aegithalidae: long-tailed tits
    Hirundinidae: swallows and martins
    Regulidae: kinglets
    Pycnonotidae: bulbuls
    Sylviidae: Old World warblers
    Hypocoliidae: Hypocolius
    Cisticolidae: cisticolas and allies
    Zosteropidae: White-eyes
    Timaliidae: babblers
    Muscicapidae: Old World flycatchers and chats
    Turdidae: thrushes and allies
    Sturnidae: starlings

See also

External link

  • Oscines Tree of Life web project article July 31, 2006

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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