Birds of the World



  Old World Warblers



Totipalmate Swm



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 OW Warblers
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 9-prim. Oscines

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Passeriformes, Oscines, Passerida, Sylviioidea -
    Babblers, Old World Warblers
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Passerida, Sylviioidea
Families: Sylviids, Babblers, Old World Warblers
White-crested Laughing Thrush
  Order Passeriformes - Perching Birds
   Suborder Passeres - "Oscines," Song Birds
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Wiki     ToL
  Passerines. Most passerines are smaller than members of non-passerine orders. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one (the hallux) backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young are altricial - they hatch blind with little or no down - and nidicolous - spending 10-15 days or so in the nest.  Subsequent development is rapid and young approach adult mass at fledging. Parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines, Suborder Passeres, are our "song birds" with complex syringeal muscles used to produce varied and complex vocalizations.
Passerida. Radiation in Eurasia, Africa and North America (with later colonization of South America). Passerida have two humeral fossae (Corvida have one).
Sylviioidea - drab, monomorphic sleek passerines, centered in Indo-Pacific areas
  Babblers and Old World Warblers - Sylviids
Classification of the Old World Warblers has been plagued by many pitfalls – convergence, tradition, misinterpretation, splitting and lumping, etc. The DNA data show that the family is not closely related to the Muscicapidae but that they diverged about 20-30 MYA and suggest that the taxon contains several subfamilies - including the babblers and gnatcatchers and gnatwrens.
   Sibley and Monroe (1990) place 552 species in 101 genera (including the babblers but not gnatcatchers) and 319 species in 50 general NOT including babblers. Their classification follows:

Family Sylviidae
   Subfamily Acrocephalinae - Bush-warblers
. 221 species, 36 genera. Larger warblers, mostly brown with yellow to beige colors in the
      underparts. Found in open woodland or tall grass. Sibley and Monroe (1990) include Tesia, Urosphena,Cettia, Bradypterus, Dromaeocercus,
      Bathmocercus, Scepomycter, Nesillas, Nesillas, Thamnornis, Melocichla, Achaetops, Sphenoaeacus, Locustella, Acrocephalus, Bebraornis,
      Hippolais, Chloropeta, Stenostira, Phyllolais, Orthotomus, Poliolais, Graueria, Eremomela, Randia, Newtonia, Cryptosylvicola, Sylvietta,
      Hemitesia, Macrosphenus, Amaurocichla, Hylia, Lelptopoecile, Phylloscopus, Seicercus, Abroscopus, Tickellia,
and Hyliota in this subfamily.
          It has been suggested that the leaf-warblers, Phylloscopus, should be separated into a separate family, the Family Phylloscopidae with
       55 species.
   Subfamily Garrulachinae - Laughing-thrushes. 54 species, 2 genera, Old World, Himalayas and southern China. Medium-sized birds with fluffy
      plumage. They have strong legs and are terrestrial. They are noisy and social, frequently forming social groups of 10 or more individuals.
        Sibley and Monroe (1990) include Garrulax and Liocichla in this group.
   Subfamily Sylviinae - Babblers and Old World Warblers. 256 (291-279) species,
      53 (51) genera. Europe, Asia, Africa. These are small passerines. Most are plain and undistinguished but some Asian species are boldly
       marked. Sexes are often identical (except in Sylvia). Many are known for their songs. Temperate species are often strongly migratory.
      Tribe Timaliini - Babblers, Philippine Creepers
      Tribe Chamaeini - Wrentits
      Tribe Sylviini - Sylvia

   Clements (2007) divides the Family Sylviidae into 4 subfamilies - Acrocephalinae - bush warblers; Megalurinae - Grass-warblers; Garrulachinae - Laughing-thrushes, and the Sylviinae - including babblers, Philippine Creepers, wrentits and the Sylviini (Sylvia). The AOU Checklist recognizes two subfamilies within the Sylviidae (Sylviinae and Polioptilinae). They include babblers as a separate family. Dickinson (2003) lists 265 species in 48 genera of sylviids alone. Harris (2009) includes 279 species in 51 genera.
   Wikipedia further dissects the composition of the Sylviidae.
  Family Timaliidae - Babblers
Wiki     EoL
233 species, 51 genera (Sibley and Monroe, 2009). 273 species, 50 genera (Dickinson, 2003; Harris, 2009). 274 species - including the Laughing-thrushes (Clements, 2007). Old World tropics - Africa, Europe, southern Asia and Pacific islands. Greatest diversity in southeast Asia. In addition to babblers, the family includes parrotbills, laughing-thrushes, thrush-babblers, scimitar babblers, wren-babblers, tit-babblers, shrike-babblers, barwings, minlas, fulvettas, crocias, cibias, and yuhinas. The Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata) is the only New World species (if it belongs in this family?). It has been proposed that the Laughing-thrushes be placed in a separate family - the Family Garrulacidae. The present family is certainly not monophyletic. White-eyes (Zosteropidae) may belong in this family?
   Small or medium-sized birds. The family includes a variety of shapes and sizes and many of its groups may not be closely related. There is a wide variety of colors and patterns in the group. Typical members are thrush-sized with longer decurved bills and a long tail. They have 10 primaries. The plumage of juveniles is unspotted. They have soft, fluffy plumage. Rictal bristles are present. Tarsi are scutillated and they usually have a single molt. They have strong legs and are largely terrestrial. They are not strongly migratory and most have rounded wings and weak flight. They are generally social, often roosting together, and they may form extended family groups. Allopreeening has been described. Some breed cooperatively. Babblers have loud vocalizations. Some sing duets and some are mimics. They are popular cage birds in Asia - two species have been introduced to Hawaii.
   Babblers occur in a range of habitats - arid desert margins, scrub, open woodland, lowland tropical forest, and montane forests. The are omnivorous but concentrate on invertebrates. Larger species may also eat small vertebrates. Parrotbills extract seeds. Sibias feed on nectar.
   Many have domds nests with a side entrance (others have open cup-shaped nests). Concealment may decrease brood parasitism by cuckoos. Clutches range from 2-5 eggs. More than one female may lay in a nest. Incubation takes 14-15 days and young fledge at 13-16 days.
  White-crested Laughing Thrush White-crested Laughing Thrush

  White-crested Laughing Thrush,
  Garrulax leucolphhus
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  Photos by Ed Konrad.
  Wrentit, Chamaea fasciata
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The Wrentit is found in chaparral in coastal western North America. It is a small bird with short wings and long tail. The plumage is dull. It has a short bill and pale iris. It eats various insects gleaned from dense scrub and will also eat berries and seeds.  It is secretive and difficult to see but is revealed by its loud voice. They mate for life and both sexes sing, build the nest, and incubate the eggs. Both care for the chicks.
    Sibley and Monroe (1990) place them in the Tribe Chamaeini - some place them in a separate family, the Chamaeidae. This species has been variously associated with the long-tail tits, true tits, Old World warblers, parrotbills, and babblers.
Wrentit Tomales Bay State Park, CA
Photo by Ed Konrad
  Family  Sylviidae - Old World Warblers, Parrotbills
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  ~279 species, 51 genera (Harris, 2009) - see above. All subarctic areas of the Old World including Australia and New Guinea.
   Small, slender insectivorous birds, most with short pointed bills. A sub-terminal maxillary notch is usually present. Megalurus have a vestigial claw on the wrist. All have 10 primaries (the outer is often reduced). Most have 12 tail feathers. Their juvenal plumage is unspotted. They usually have 2 molts/year. The presence of rectal bristles is variable. Tarsi are thin and are covered with multiple scales (“scutellate”). Humeral fossa are double. Many species are sexually dimorphic – males of some species have black on the heads, replaced by dusky colors in the female. Most are solitary in the non-breeding seasons. They actively forage in grasslands, shrubs, bushes, and trees - in almost every type of habitat and from sea level to montane scrub. Song is variable. Species breeding in temperate areas are strongly migratory.
   Most are monogamous and all are territorial. Nests vary from domed structures to open cups and range from ground level to tree tops. They lay 2-3 eggs in the tropics and 4-7 in higher latitutudes where there is more day length to forage for food. Eggs are incubated 12-14 days by the female. Both feed the fledged young for up to two weeks.
   Recent study has reinforced our understanding of this family which probably remains widely paraphyletic. There is likely a core of "true" warblers that includes most of the Sylvia warblers plus Parisoma, Pseudoalcippe, Rhopophilus, Lioparus, Paradoxornis, Conostoma, Fulvetta, Chrysomma, and Chamaea (at least 32 species). Graminicola has been moved to Timaliidae. Barthmnocercus, Sceptomycter, and Poliolais (along with two tailorbirds) have been moved to Cisticolidae. The Marsh- and tree-warblers have been moved to Acrocephalidae. The Malagasy warblers have also been removed from the family. Bradypterus, Locustella, and Megalurus have been moved to the Megaluridae. Pholidornis, Hylia, Abroscopus, Erythrocercus, Urosphena, Tesia, Cettia, Tickellia, Phyllergates have been moved to the Cettiidae. Leptopoecile has been moved to the Aegithalidae. Phylloscopus and Seicercus have been moved to the Phylloscopidae. There is also a group of relatively ancient African warblers that may not be monophyletic. It includes Sylvietta, Melocichla, Achaetops, Sphenoeacus
Cetti's Warbler
Sardinian Warbler
Cetti's Warbler, Cettia cetti.
Oropos, Greece. Photo by Ed Konrad.
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Sardinian Warbler, Sylvia melanocephala.
Oropos Greece. Photo by Ed Konrad.
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  Family Paradoxornithidae - Parrotbills
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~21 species, 3 genera (including Chrysomma - the North American Wrentit)? East and souteast Asia. Small birds with long tails, living in reedbeds and low wet habitat. They feed largely on grss seed. The Bearded Reedling (Tit), Panurus biarmicus, is more insectivorous and has been placed in a separate family (Family Panuridae) - with supprt from DNA sequence data. DNA-DNA hybridization and other genetic studies suggest placement near the babbler - warbler assemblage. Subsequent studies confirm that the Beaded Reedling is a distinct line and other parrotbills form a clade closer to Sylvia suggesting that parrotbills be placed in the Family Sylviidae.
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